Illinois State Fair premieres LGBT rights booth

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The butter cow at the 2011 Illinois State Fair.

When the Illinois State Fair opens today, somewhere among the fried Mars bars and the giant butter cow will be the first-ever booth promoting LGBT equality.

A project of Equality Illinois and Lambda Legal, the booth is located on the fairgrounds near the Heartland Area by the west side of the Skyglider, close to Gate 2 at Peoria Road and Sangamon Avenue. Scores of local volunteers from Springfield and towns surrounding the state capital are making the project possible, according to Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov.

“Our cause reaches every corner of Illinois, so there is no better place to meet hundreds of thousands of citizens from all over the state and every walk of life than the State Fair,” Cherkasov said. “We are excited to participate in one of the grand traditions of the state.”

EI and Lambda Legal are also partnering in a two-pronged strategy to achieve marriage equality in Illinois through legislative action and by seeking a state court ruling that would overturn the Illinois ban against same-sex marriages.
 The booth will provide “I Do” postcards for visitors to sign in support of marriage equality that will be sent to their state legislators.

In addition the booth will register voters, provide names of LGBT-supportive clergy and congregations and offer information about anti-bullying efforts and strategies. And, “for 11 days we will be sharing stories of same-sex couples, their children, LGBT students, veterans, teachers, employees, and more with attendees from all across the state,” Cherkasov said.

The Illinois State Fair runs Aug. 9-19 in Springfield.