Massive Pro-Gay Rallies in Illinois

Hands over rainbow

Chicago Loop Closed by Gay Marriage Supporters
Carbondale, Champaign, Peoria & Springfield Join in National Protest

Springfield, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Thousands of Illinoisans joined gay rights supporters in forty-nine other states holding simultaneous pro-gay marriage rallies Saturday. The rallies were organized to protest the California vote taking away the right of same-sex couples to marry in that state.

"Illinoisans joined people throughout the country to say no to ballot box bigotry," said Rick Garcia, public policy director of Equality Illinois and an organizer of the Illinois protests. "From one end of this state to the other people who believe in fairness and equality are standing up and denouncing any attempt to enshrine discrimination and hate in our Constitution."

In Illinois rallies were held in Carbondale, Champaign, Chicago, Peoria and Springfield.

In Springfield almost 200 demonstrators gathered across the street from the State House then marched to the old capitol building, passed the Governor’s Mansion, and then to the steps of the Illinois Supreme Court.

"Not to long ago and not too far away the majority of people in this country opposed the abolition of slavery, opposed women’s rights to vote, opposed interracial and inter-religious marriage, and opposed integration," Garcia said at the Springfield rally. "Minorities should never be victims of the tyranny of the majority."

Thousands of angry demonstrators marched through Chicago’s loop and shut down State Street and Michigan Avenue.

"In my years of activism I don’t recall such a massive outpouring of anger and determination," said Art Johnston, president of the board of Equality Illinois. "The vote in California has poked a sleeping giant and this giant will not accept second class treatment."

Dozens also gathered in Champaign and in Carbondale.

Holding hands"The population in California was allowed to vote to revoke the rights of a minority, which opens the door to majority-opinion rule over the rights of any and all people who do not belong to that majority," said Ted Faust the organizer of the Carbondale rally. "That sets a new and frightening precedent for the determination and protection of civil rights. We ask who will be next – which group of people will be targeted, who will have their fundamental rights put up to a vote by the majority?"

In 1996 the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation banning the recognition of same-sex marriage. Anti-gay groups attempted in 2005 and 2007 to put anti-gay advisory referendum on the Illinois ballot. The groups failed in 2005 to have enough valid signatures and in 2007 they failed to even gather enough signatures to submit.

"Saturday’s rallies demonstrate that we will do whatever it takes to make sure that Illinois never enshrines bigotry and discrimination in our Constitution," said Garcia. "We believe in one set of rules, one yardstick for everyone and that includes gay and lesbian people and our families.

Source and Photos: Equality Illinoi