CHICAGO
03/16/2012 05:12 pm ET | Updated Mar 20, 2012

Rick Santorum Carmel Catholic Alumni Protest: Ex-Classmates Slam Candidate Over Anti-Gay Stance

CHICAGO -- On Friday evening, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum will hold a "Rally for Rick" in the Chicago suburbs, where he will find both supporters and protesters.

Starting at 7 p.m., gay rights activists and some of Santorum's former high school classmates will gather outside the Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, where they will "say no to Rick Santorum," and say "yes to equality."

Santorum graduated from Carmel Catholic High School in suburban Mundelein in 1976, and though he only spent one year at the school, some alums believe he "is a poor role model for Carmel Catholic students."

“Rick Santorum has really built a career on discriminating against the LGBT community. It's what he's built his name on. It's what he's placed all of his bets on. That's the thing that's really rallying alumni against him,” protest organizer and Carmel alum Matt Muchowski told the Daily Herald. “We've been shocked and embarrassed by it.”

In a media statement, 1976 Carmel Catholic alum Jim Wilkins said, "two key things I was taught at Carmel ... were that you treat everyone fairly and equally and how you treat the most disadvantaged among us defines you as a person. Santorum fails on both points."

Activist Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation Network will join the protest, and sent out a press release Friday containing some of Santorum's "pearls of 'wisdom,'" including comments comparing homosexuality to incest and claims that "there are no Palestinians."

"We want the world to know that not everyone from his alma mater supports his bigoted views," Carmel Catholic Alumni Against Rick Santorum said on their Facebook page. "In fact, we support equality, acceptance and pride."

Al Salvi, co-chair of Santorum's Illinois campaign, told the Herald he disagrees with the alleged “anti-marriage” agenda of the protesters, but respects their right to protest peacefully.

In recent polls, Santorum was trailing front-runner Mitt Romney in the Chicago suburbs, but held a slight lead among conservative downstate voters. The Illinois 2012 primary election is Tuesday.

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