Several thousand gathered under rainy skies at the State Capitol in Springfield Oct. 22 to demand the Illinois House vote on gay marriage in the fall veto session, which kicked off the same day.
An afternoon-long rally featured several politicians and community leaders, each voicing their support for SB10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which would bring same-sex marriage equality to the state.
Among those making an appearance were Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Richard Durbin, as well as Secretary of State Jesse White, who was unannounced.
Illinois has worked in ending discrimination in areas such as housing and job opportunities for many years, White said, adding that he was in "strong support" of marriage equality. "Now, go forward in your efforts to bring about justice."
Toni Weaver, president of the PFLAG Council of Northern Illinois, said, "I've had three sons. All three are college-educated, socially-conscious taxpaying citizens. But in the eyes of the state of Illinois, they are not equal. My son who's gay does not receive the recognition for his relationship that his brothers receive. He does not receive the federal benefits that his brothers receive. He is not equal under the lawthis is unjust and it must stop."
"We will not rest until our LGBT children are recognized for the full and complete human beings that they are," Weaver added. They are not defective. They are not intrinsically disordered. They are our children and we will fight for them. Don't get a parent pissedour claws are out."
Rev. Carlton Pearson, the well-known American minister, delivered the afternoon's keynote address, apologizing for a history of religious discrimination against LGBT people and noting his own journey towards supporting same-sex marriage.
"We did not treat you right, we have not treated you right," said Pearson. "That day is stopping now."
Pearson called those not supporting the measure "out of touch" with current trends, and he suggested that Illinois, home to Abraham Lincoln and President Obama had strayed from its historical roots of promoting justice.
"This is the Land of Lincoln," Pearson said. "Not the 14th state [to win equal marriage]. This should have been the first state."
Marchers circled the capitol building, waving large rainbow flags and colorful banners and chanting, "pass the damn bill!," a line taken from a misstatment in Pearson's speech. The crowd represented a mix of young couples and veteran activists, small children and teenagers.
Students from Rudy Lozano Leadership Academy led off the march along with the Lakeside Pride Freedom Band blasting Lady GaGa's pop hit "Born This Way" and "We Are Family."
The march circled the Capitol Building and ended without incident.
More photos to come. Photographers: Alyssa Eisenstein, Barb Kay, Gary Chichester, Hal Baim, John Paquet, Larie Little, Ralph Childs, Rick Aguilar, Tim Carroll
From a press release: 5,000 Rally in Springfield for Marriage Equality
Springfield, IL An estimated 5,000 people from all over Illinois traveled to Springfield today to rally for marriage equality. Speakers from a broad coalition of LGBT equality, labor, immigration, women's health, business, sports, and faith communities joined LGBT families at a concert and rally.
Speakers and citizens all called upon the Illinois House of Representatives to approve Senate Bill 10, the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act," during the veto session. SB 10 has already been approved by the Illinois Senate and Gov. Quinn has said that he will sign it.
About the March
Facebook.com/MarchOnSpringfieldForMarriageEquality or on Twitter @IllinoisMarches .
March on Springfield for Marriage Equality, 10-22-2013, Part 16: www.youtube.com/watch .