Hundreds rally for marriage equality at the state capitol

By WEEK Producer

October 22, 2013 Updated Oct 22, 2013 at 7:43 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- State lawmakers returning to Springfield for the fall veto session on Tuesday were welcomed by hundreds of protesters.

The March on Springfield comes five months after legislation legalizing same sex marriage stalled in the Illinois House.

Hundreds of supporters rallied inside and outside the state capitol building in Springfield Tuesday.

They said the March on Springfield is designed to win house approval of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Bill.

"I have friends and relatives who've been denied their rights, have been discriminated against, who've been harmed physically even,” said Lynnda White of Peoria.

White is among a group from the Universalist Unitarian Church in Peoria who attended the rally. They said it is important that church members speak in support of the bill.

"I think it's just a question of saying we care about everyone and we can't leave anyone out,” said Rev. Michael Brown. “We can't say to some people you're not worth the same as other people.”

In February, the Illinois Senate approved the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Bill but the House did not call it up for a vote because leaders said there was not enough support.

Since the spring legislative session ended, organizers say support for same sex marriage has shifted.

Even Governor Pat Quinn, who had not been very vocal on the topic, attended the rally along with several other politicians.

"We need love to pass the marriage and equality bill into law and I'll sign it as quickly as possible” Quinn said.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has said we will give federal benefits to those who are recognized in marriage in each state. Why should we want to discriminate against those of the same gender who marry in Illinois?" said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.

It is unclear if Illinois House members will vote on the same sex marriage bill during the fall veto session.