The Fight for Marriage Equality in the Land of Lincoln is the focus of a new book from Windy City Times writers Kate Sosin and Tracy Baim. The book looks at the financial and political pressure from the LGBT community and its allies to pass the marriage equality law in 2013, including heated internal battles and intense heat put on elected officials in the final days of the legislative session. The book also includes more than 100 photos from the historic push for marriage, including photos and documents from the 1950s through the 2013 demonstrations.
Windy City Times also has two additional books out this month. The first, by Owen Keehnen and Tracy Baim, is about a longtime activist who also was one-half of the first couple to receive a same-sex marriage license in Illinois, just a few days after Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill into law November 20, 2013. Vernita Gray: From Woodstock to the White House chronicles her journey as an African-American lesbian from the South Side of Chicago to her work in the Cook County state’s attorney’s office on hate crimes, and her years-long fight against the cancer that ultimately took her life in March 2014.
Windy City Times is marking the 10th anniversary of Richard Knight Jr., as film critic for the paper with the publication of The Best of Knight at the Movies, a collection of Knight’s movie reviews from 2004 to 2014. Written from Knight’s queer perspective, the book includes more than 150 film reviews and essays. Gay icon Bruce Vilanch has said about the collection, “If Fred Phelps were alive he’d picket this book!” The book will be released in mid-June, just over a decade after Knight joined the paper.
All three of these books are available on Amazon.com in black-and-white editions (the marriage book available after June 16). The Vernita Gray and Illinois marriage books will soon also be available in color onCreateSpace.com and Kindle.
Below is more information on all three books from the publishers:
The Fight for Marriage Equality in the Land of Lincoln
Money. Votes, Activism. These three ingredients were key to the passage of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act on Nov. 5, 2013 in the Illinois House. Otherwise known as the marriage-equality law, supporters originally felt it would be a slam-dunk effort, since the Democrats captured a super majority in the state Senate and House in the November 2012 elections.
But this is Illinois, and nothing comes without a cost–in money and labor. S.B. 10 did pass quickly in the state Senate, on Valentine’s Day 2013. But months of lobbying by pro– and anti-marriage-equality forces left the state’s representatives in the House without the courage to vote by the end of the spring legislative session, May 31, 2013. What happened next was a show of force by donors, lobbyists, politicians and most importantly the general citizens of Illinois. There were protests, benefits, phone banks, door-to-door canvassing, lobbying in the Capitol building, and a 5,000-strong March on Springfield for Marriage Equality on Oct. 22, 2013.
This book takes an in-depth look at the behind-the-scenes efforts that were enhanced by the grassroots activists taking it to the streets. There were surprising opponents–and surprising allies–in the battle to get marriage for LGBTs in Illinois. This book provides a deep look into the inner-workings of passing legislation in Illinois. It is not always about the “will of the people” or “what is right.” It often comes down to horse-trading, political manipulation, threats and check books. It’s not quite the simplicity of the song “I’m Just a Bill” from the TV show Schoolhouse Rock! But it can be just as fun.
Vernita Gray: From Woodstock to the White House
Vernita Gray lived through some of the country’s most riveting civil-rights dramas. She came out as a lesbian soon after attending the 1969 Woodstock concert, where she heard about the uprising at the Stonewall gay bar in New York City. Her fight for lesbian equality, and the rights of the entire LGBTQ community, would be her passion for the remaining decades of her life.
She was also a poet and a writer, a key player in Chicago’s gay liberation movement, and a lesbian separatist during the 1970s. In the 1980s, she opened her own restaurant, Sol Sands, and in the early 1990s, she began an 18-year career with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. Along the way, she also managed to have a lot of fun.
Her visits to the White House brought tears to her eyes. She never thought she would see an African-American president, especially from her hometown of Chicago. A few months after attending the Obama selection at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, she attended his inauguration and related parties in D.C. She first went to the White House for a June 2009 Pride reception.
Vernita’s struggle with cancer would soon take a turn for the worse, and in her final years, her passion was used to fight for both at-risk LGBTQ youth as well as marriage equality in Illinois.
The Best of Knight at the Movies
Windy City Times is marking the 10th anniversary of Richard Knight Jr., as film critic for the paper with the publication of The Best of Knight at the Movies, a collection of Knight’s movie reviews from 2004 to 2014. Knight has picked more than 150 film reviews and essays, from the very gay to the gay-inclusive, and everything in between. Knight is also a director and screenwriter himself, and a longtime film lover. He co-wrote and co-directed Scrooge & Marley, a modern LGBT retelling of A Christmas Carol.
The Best of Knight at the Movies is available on Amazon.
Keehnen, Baim and Knight will be at a book launch Thursday, June 19, 7 p.m. at Women & Children First Bookstore, 5233 N. Clark St., Chicago.