More than 100 equal marriage supporters poured into the state capitol building May 31, as the Illinois House appears poised to vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. The bill would grant same-sex couples equal marriage rights.
LGBT leaders appeared confident as LGBT families and organizers were invited into Speaker Mike Madigan's box in the House chamber.
LGBTs convened in the capitol rotunda with banners and flags to show their support for the bill and urge a vote.
The group sang patriotic songs like "This Land is Your Land" and "God Bless America."
Speakers included bill sponsors Kelly Cassidy, Sam Yingling and Ann Williams.
Jim Bennett, chair of the Illinois Unites for Marriage Coalition, drove home the urgency of calling for a vote. Sponsors have until the end of the day to pass the measure, as spring session ends.
"This is our day," Bennett said. "There is no more time. It has to happen today."
"It's a civil right," he added later. "It's always been our right, and now we're claiming it."
Jim Darby, who celebrates 50 years with his partner Patrick Bova in July, said he cannot wait any longer for marriage rights. He is 81 years old and wants to get married now.
"Maybe after 50 years, Patrick can make an honest man out of me," Darby joked.
The capitol buzzed with excitement as families began to fill the House chamber. LGBT supporters were also Springfield-bound on a bus from Chicago, organized by LGBT groups.
Video: See Marriage Equality allies singing God Bless America, Springfield 5-31-2013 morning here: www.youtube.com/watch .
Anti-gay groups convene in Springfield 2013-05-31 here: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Anti-gay-groups-convene-in-Springfield/43040.html .
Marchers head for Springfield rally for marriage equality 2013-05-31 here: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Marchers-head-for-Springfield-rally-for-marriage-equality-/43039.html .
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