"We'd like to sing a little song to you about yearning for a better world," said Patrick Sinozich, artistic director for the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus.
As "Over the Rainbow" could be heard throughout the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago, signs reading "Opposition to legal equality is bigotry," "I am no different than your own daughter," and "Call your legislators for marriage equality" could be read.
A coalition of LGBTQ activists and organizations organized a rally at noon Saturday, Jan. 5 to help garner support for the same-sex marriage bill that passed an Illinois Senate Committee two days earlier.
After CGMC's song, Andrea Crain, a member of Join the Impact Chicago, introduced a number of speakers who appealed to hearts with emotional stories, and urged everyone in the crowd of more than 100 to call their legislators.
Beth and Boyd Bellinger stepped up to the microphones at the edge of the plaza with their two five-and-a-half-month-old children in their arms. Beth told the story of the couple's wedding back in 2010 in Charleston, SC., and about being elated afterwards and telling an attendant at the airport.
"Not here you didn't," was the attendant's response, according to Beth, suggesting their marriage isn't legally recognized.
"We also want our marriage to be legitimate and legal for the sake of our children," Boyd added. Boyd said she is lucky she lives in a state where she could put her name on the childrens' birth certificates, and legally adopt them in order to be recognized as their legal guardian.
"And we are lucky that we could afford to do that," she said. "We shouldn't have to pay thousands and dollars and hire someone to navigate the legal system for us in order to have our family be protected and legitimate in the eyes of the state and the nation."
Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, urged people to call their representatives, senators, as well the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, and to urge others to do so.
"If we call 10 people and tell them to contact their legislators, we might actually be able to get this done sooner rather than later. And it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. And if we continue to push hard now, we can get this done now."
Long-time LGBT activist and TCRA policy advisor Rick Garcia, openly gay Ald. James Cappleman, Jose Rivera of the Children's Rights Council of Illinois, Gay Liberation Network activist Andy Thayer, and Join the Impact Chicago activist Rachel Miller also spoke, among others. Ald. Robert Fioretti also attended the rally.
"Our organizers counted over 250 people in attendance," said Martinez.
The session of the Illinois General Assembly begins Jan. 9.
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