Pro- and Anti- Gay Marriage Groups Rallying in Springfield - FOX 18 Quad Cities News and Weather

Pro- and Anti- Gay Marriage Groups Rallying in Springfield

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Courtesy: Doug Summers Courtesy: Doug Summers

Illinois lawmakers are back in Springfield this week for the Fall Veto Session, and people on both sides of the gay-marriage debate are rallying in the capitol to try to gain those lawmakers' support.

The state Senate has already passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois. But, that bill stalled in the House earlier this year, and House Speaker Michael Madigan says it is still several votes short of the 60 it would need to pass in that chamber.

Still, some lawmakers remain hopeful it will be brought up for a vote during this Fall Veto session, and so are thousands of gay rights supporters who descended on Springfield on Tuesday.

"Considering how cloudy and rainy it was, and it was kind of cold, it was a very good crowd, very upbeat, very positive," said one person who took part in that March on Springfield for Marriage Equality, Doug Summers.

Summers traveled to the state capitol from his home in Galesburg to be a part of that crowd.

"Honestly, it felt like a very joyful atmosphere, very happy," he said of the experience, "Like people were there to greet each other, reconfirm their commitments to each other and recommit to the cause."

Marriage equality is a cause that is very personal to Summers.

He is in a civil union now with his partner of 17 years. But, he says that's not the same as marriage, and he was rallying on Tuesday for that right.

"Even if you're a heterosexual couple and you only have civil union, you are not granted 1,100 benefits that you get out of a marriage, as stated in the state law or federal law," Summers explained.

"That just is equating me as a second class citizen, and I don't feel that that's what the United States is about," he added.

Summers says seeing so many people from so many different walks of life speaking out in Springfield for his right to marry was very affirming.

Governor Pat Quinn (D-IL) was one of the first to lend his voice in support:

"This is the opportunity to send a message to our whole country that marriage equality - the time has come," the governor said.

But thousands of people are expected to turn out in Springfield on Wednesday with a very different message:

"That marriage redefinition isn't as popular some people want you to believe it is," said David Smith, executive director for the Illinois Family Institute.

The Illinois Family Institute, a Christian non-profit that aims to "bring a biblical perspective to public policy", is calling on Christians from all corners of the state to take part in its Defend Marriage Lobby Day, which will feature a prayer vigil, speeches, and a march of their own around the capitol.

"We want to be noted and we want the lawmakers to hear us loud and clear that they don't have the right to do this," said Smith, "and that they should leave well enough alone."

The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that it is important to have these sort of rallies -- whether they're for or against same sex marriage -- to make sure everyone's voice is heard.

"When you want freedom, you have to fight for it," Summers said.

Same sex marriage is one of many issues the Illinois legislature could be taking up during this fall veto session.

Of course, one of the biggest questions they'll need to tackle is how to fix the state's $100 billion dollar public pension crisis.

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