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Thursday, April 27, 2006 07:02 am

The Hype

Melissa Bean, the gay Green, and the open-primary scene

Bean Counting Last July, U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean was one of 15 Democrats who voted in favor of the Central American Free Trade Agreement. After CAFTA passed by two votes, some labor unions, who fought the bill’s passage and played a key role in Bean’s ouster of 17-term Republican Phil Crane in 2004, vowed to yank their support. At the time, Tom Balanoff, president of Illinois’ largest labor group, the Service Employees Union International, told IT that he was “very disappointed in Melissa Bean.” But that appears to be a moot point. Capitol Hill observers note that after the CAFTA vote, business interests picked up the fundraising slack when Bean’s labor support split. According to the Federal Election Commission, Bean has amassed a war chest of $1.8 million — one of the largest in Congress — with which to face a challenge by Republican David McSweeney for the 8th District congressional seat in November.

Here come the brides On May 27, two women will be united in holy matrimony at a private ceremony in Chicago — then they’ll go to Canada and get married for real. The Rev. Dan Rodriguez-Schlorff, a minister and openly gay Green Party candidate for state treasurer, will officiate at the first ceremony. The vows he plans to lead the women through, though similar to the traditional till-death-do-you-part covenant, will be spiritual, not legal, he says. Rodriguez-Schlorff says that the women approached him last fall, before he announced his candidacy for the job also sought by banker Alexi Giannoulias, a Democrat, and Republican state Sen. Christine Radogno. He says he kept his promise to the women despite his pursuit of a constitutional office in a state where gay marriage is still legally prohibited. Rodriguez-Schlorff says that his performing the ceremony is separate from his political activities yet “embodies the ideals of the Green Party.”

Primary Support Because 80 percent of Springfield residents voted in favor of switching to an open-primary system in March, at least a dozen other communities statewide have decided to also put the question to their voters in November. At their annual township meeting, held earlier this month, electors from Gardner, Springfield, Pawnee, Maxwell, and Capital townships — all in Sangamon County — supported the inclusion of an open-primary advisory referendum on the November ballot. Other townships voting for the effort, orchestrated in Springfield by Sangamon County Board member Sam Cahnman, include Burton, Honey Creek, Schaumburg, Moraine, Belmont, East Grove, Harmon, and Marion. Cahnman, a Democrat in the race for 99th House district seat, is running against incumbent Republican Raymond Poe, who had been opposed to having open primaries but changed his mind in light of the support for the idea in Springfield.
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