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LGBTs part of local Obama rally
by Blair Mishleau
2009-11-11


Powerful, passionate voices took stage to discuss everything from immigration reform to LGBT equality Nov. 3 at "Change Worth Fighting For," an event which observed the first-year anniversary of President Barack Obama's election and urged for reform on many issues.

The theater at the Spertus Institute, 610 S. Michigan, overflowed with over 400 people, with many more listening in the lobby. After listening to community speakers, the group went to Grant Park to sign a joint letter to president Obama.

"Our battle is before us, and our road is long. But we've won great battles before. … What great progress we have made. So let nobody break your spirit," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a speaker at the rally.

The event, which was hosted by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, pulled activists from many different communities to discuss a common theme, "A fairer and more inclusive America for all," as the letter to Obama stated.

"What we all have in common is that we are all human first, and every one of us is struggling for full inclusion in the dream of America," said Art Johnston of Equality Illinois. "Let us all please continue our fight. Let us help the man in Washington. Let us help Barack Obama help all of us see the real dream across America come true."

Many speakers displayed confidence in Obama, but felt that activists must continue to push for reform to get it.

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"I firmly believe Barack is the vehicle, but we the people have got to come together to pave the rode," said Tom Balanoff, president of the Chicago chapter of Service Employees International Union.

After the rally, the entire group lined up to travel to Grant Park. As media outlets videotaped them, they exited and ventured to the very spot where Obama accepted his election.

Many were wearing prominent yellow vests that demanded immigration reform on the back. This sea of yellow, with some people carrying picket signs, made its way to Grant Park to sign a letter that emphasized the urgency of issues at hand.

"Dear President Obama, on the one year anniversary of your historic election as President … we gather … to reaffirm our support for the 'Change worth fighting for.' At this critical point, we urgently ask that you continue to show courage in support of the range of issues that will make this a fairer and more inclusive America for all," read the opening to Obama's letter.

More than 50 organizations supported the letter to Obama, including the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Equality Illinois and the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.

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