Capitalizing on big crowds downtown for the Taste of Chicago, more than 100 LGBTs and allies marched through the loop July 13 to demand marriage equality in Illinois.
The rally and march saw thousands of spectators as it moved along Michigan Avenue, packed with shoppers and tourists.
Despite attendance of just around 120, the march, topped with rainbow flags and neon signs, stretched over an entire block.
"Out of the stores, into the streets!" demonstrators shouted.
"Civil unions aren't the same, not in rights, not in name!" they yelled.
Families and shoppers, out in large numbers during the Saturday afternoon protest, stopped to take photos and cheer.
The march started with a rally at Congress Parkway and Michigan Avenue, close to a main entrance for the Taste of Chicago.
Among the speakers was Rep. Ken Dunkin, who heads the Illinois House Black Caucus, and whose district encompasses the rally starting point. Dunkin has been a major player in the ongoing saga of Illinois' marriage bill, as some have suggested the Black Caucus would not support the bill.
At the rally, Dunkin lamented the injustice he said LGBT Illinoisans face as they are denied federal rights due to lack of marriage equality in Illinois.
"I love you," an impassioned Dunkin told the crowd. "I respect you. And I'm going to fight my ass for you."
Also speaking was Pastor Jamie Frazier who asked religious people to question if they had "good religion" or religion that promoted abuse and injustice.
"The conservative right has absconded with my Jesus," Frazier said. "But I'm here to declare that all are welcome at the foot of the crossnot in spite of our differences but because of our differences. For the aspects of our identities are demonstrations of God's diversity, beauty and complexity. I don't serve a simple-minded God, so I'm tired of simple-minded religious voices."
Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, represented Illinois Unites for Marriage, a coalition of groups pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Illinois. Martinez said the coalition was moving towards a more inclusive strategy than it has employed in past months, and he asked attendees to volunteer their time and energy.
The rally was organized by a loose group of activists who assembled the This Is Not Over group in the wake of a May 31 shortfall on equal marriage. The Illinois House had been expected to vote on equal marriage before adjourning this spring, but with a predicted lack of votes to pass the bill, chief sponsor Rep. Greg Harris decided to hold off on a vote. That move prompted public outcry.
Windy City Performing Arts, comprised of Windy City Gay Chorus and Aria, performed at the rally.
The march concluded in Washington Square Park.
Also at the rally, there were t-shirts and materials for the planned March on Springfield for Marriage Equality, Oct. 22, 2013, the first day of the fall veto session. See www.facebook.com/MarchOnSpringfieldForMarriageEquality .
Video by Kate Sosin:
Rep. Ken Dunkin speaks
Windy City Performing Arts