Marriage debaters rally at the Capitol

Meredith Flynn —  October 24, 2013

NEWS | People voiced their support for a traditional definition of marriage Wednesday at the Illinois Capitol, gathering for a prayer rally in front of the Lincoln statue and later moving inside to lobby their legislators. The Illinois Family Institute (IFI), who sponsored the event, also provided signs that read “Strengthen Marriage, Don’t Redefine It,” and “Marriage. One Man. One Woman. Period.”

The rally came one day after supporters of same-sex marriage gathered in Springfield to express their support for SB10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. The bill, which would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois, was approved in the Senate on Valentine’s Day but stalled in the House on lawmakers’ last day in session.

When lawmakers returned this week, some expected marriage to be on the legislative agenda. But the House has cancelled its scheduled session for Thursday, which could signify a “lack of urgency looming over the General Assembly’s fall session,” according to a Tuesday article in the Chicago Tribune. The newspaper reported some representatives may want to wait until after January to vote on same-sex marriage, because by then they’ll know who they are running against in the spring’s primary elections. The House currently is scheduled to be back in session Nov. 5-7.

Outside the Capitol, voices on both sides of the issue have not lost their urgency despite the summer recess. According to the Tribune, police estimate 3,000 people attended the “March on Springfield for Marriage Equality” Tuesday. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin also were in attendance; Quinn has said he will sign the same-sex marriage legislation if it reaches his desk.

At the IFI-sponsored rally Wednesday, church leaders from several denominations faced the crowd and prayed for the legislative struggle and for a small group of counter-protestors across the street. Mike Henderson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Springfield, 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.”

Due to legislative rules, if SB10 is passed this fall, same-sex marriages could begin in June 2014. However, if voted on and passed in January, such marriages could begin in February 2014. Illinois would be the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Photos from Wednesday’s rally

Rally attenders pick up signs in front of the Lincoln statue on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

Rally attenders pick up signs in front of the Lincoln statue on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

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Pastor Danny Holliday of Victory Baptist in Alton prays during the rally.

Pastor Danny Holliday of Victory Baptist in Alton prays during the rally.

Pastor Michael Henderson and his wife, Brenna, of FBC Springfield, pray and read Scripture under the gaze of Abraham Lincoln.

Pastor Mike Henderson and his wife, Brenna, of FBC Springfield, pray and read Scripture under the gaze of Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln impersonator Dr. Mark Zumhagen delivered the Gettysburg Address, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.

Abraham Lincoln impersonator Dr. Mark Zumhagen delivered the Gettysburg Address, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.

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Meredith Flynn

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Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.