CHICAGO — A conservative Chicago-based political action committee is telling Downstate voters to ask a legislator to vote against the proposed marriage equality bill, saying children raised by same-sex couples will "never know their real parents."
"Same-sex marriage denies children the right to know who their real parent is," said Family-PAC director Paul Caprio in a robocall directed at constituents of Rep. Mike Smiddy (D-Hillsdale).
The 20-second robocall is at least the second attack against Smiddy by Family-PAC, described on its website as being "on the front lines of the battles for tradition [sic] values and limited government in Illinois."
The call slams Smiddy, a first-term legislator from the Quad Cities, for taking $6,500 from "Chicago homosexuals," and asks "Who is Mike Smiddy representing? You or Chicago homosexuals?"
The robocall also asks listeners to tell Smiddy to "return the homosexual money immediately."
Leading up to the November election, Smiddy's campaign received a $3,000 donation from Equality Illinois PAC, which advocates for marriage equality, and $3,500 from Chicago media executive and gay rights advocate Fred Eychaner, a staunch supporter of Democrats, according to state campaign finance filings.
According to federal campaign finance filings, Family-PAC is funded in part by Richard Uihlein, CEO of packing material company Uline, investor Peter Huizenga, chairman of Huizenga Capital Management, and Bernard Bertsche, owner of hydraulics company Camcraft, based in Hanover Park.
Last month, the state Senate approved a bill that would allow same-sex marriage in Illinois, and its sponsor in the Illinois House, Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), expects it to come to a vote soon.
Though Smiddy said he's received about 500 phone calls from constituents telling him to vote "no" to letting same-sex couples marry, he said the "hateful" calls would not diminish his support of equal marriage rights.
"I thought it was very bigoted," Smiddy said Monday.
Smiddy said he strongly believes same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue.
"I have no intentions of changing my view and my vote on the issue," Smiddy said.
Smiddy said the gay community is highly engaged in the Quad Cities area and that he's received support from them on a range of issues.
"A lot of folks have stated that they felt that this type of bigoted response to this issue is wrong, and they were happy that I had not changed my stance," Smiddy said.
Family-PAC also issued a robocall last month, expressing a similar message.
"This is an issue primarily about the welfare of the children, protection of children, and what effect same-sex marriage has on that welfare and outcome," Family-PAC's Caprio said Sunday, claiming that children would be less likely to know their cultural and medical history if their parents were gay.
"Is it possible that what they call Parent 1 and Parent 2 could raise a child in a loving manner? Sure. But don't you think it's important a person know who their biological parents are?" he asked.
Smiddy said adopted children can seek out their biological parents regardless of the parents' orientation and called Caprio's assertion "ridiculous."
"I honestly thought it was a very ridiculous comment and a very untrue comment," Smiddy said.
Caprio's statement that he has been taking money from "Chicago homosexuals" is "greatly offensive," Smiddy said.
"They're not just gay or lesbian," Smiddy said. "They're individuals as well."