Springfield | Voices for and against same-sex marriage in Illinois gathered for separate rallies at the Capitol in late October, as legislators returned for their fall veto session.
The two rallies had some similarities.
Dubbed the “March on Springfield for Marriage Equality,” advocates for same-sex marriage gathered October 22 in the shadow of the Abraham Lincoln statue that stands on the Capitol’s grounds. The following day, advocates for traditional marriage stood in the same shadow to participate in the Illinois Family Institute’s “Defend Marriage Lobby Day.”
Speakers on both sides of the issue claimed the support of Lincoln for their present-day cause, and their rallies were similar in size with 3,000 to 4,000 participants each. But the similarities ended there.
The March on Springfield had the support of many elected leaders. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Gov. Pat Quinn, Lt. Gov. Shelia Simon, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and Sec. of State Jessie White all spoke in support of SB10, the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.” The measure was passed by the Senate in February but has yet to be called for a vote in the House.
Topinka called same-sex marriage “a basic human right. It’s the right thing to do. It allows everyone to be treated equally under the law. … We’re not going to discriminate or just be mean.”
Wednesday’s rally didn’t quite have the political clout of Tuesday’s, but it did feature State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) and two gubernatorial candidates - Mark Dillard and Bill Brady, both Republican State Senators. Several pastors from Christian denominations passionate in their beliefs about traditional marriage also were present.
Two Illinois Southern Baptist pastors spoke during the morning’s prayer rally – Danny Holliday from Victory Baptist in Alton, and Michael Henderson from First Baptist, Springfield.
Holliday prayed for understanding. “Lord God, we are not here because we are against people. You teach us in Your Word we are to love everybody. You teach us to love even our enemies if we have any. We don’t hate folk.”
He also asked God to bless those at the rally that He would bless and touch the hearts of the state representatives.
Henderson prayed for God’s Word to be upheld. “…Help it, Lord, to be hidden deep within our hearts and within our souls. Help us to stand for it no matter what resistance may try to come up against us, because we know, Lord, that You’ve already won the battle.”
Another Illinois Baptist, Larry Trotter, pastor of Sweet Holy Spirit Baptist in Chicago, spoke in the afternoon, as the rally moved inside the Capitol’s rotunda.
The fall veto session is just two weeks long. While many supporters of SB10 are urging representatives to vote on the bill during the session, it is not expected to be called for a vote this year.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 14 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.