New Group Works for Marriage Equality in Illinois

The Inclusive Community Project Political Action Committee will seek to mobilize people of color to work for a bill that may come to a final vote in the next few weeks.

BY Trudy Ring

October 11 2013 8:56 PM ET

Marquell Smith

There’s a new group joining in the fight for marriage equality in Illinois, and this one is focused on marshaling support among people of color.

Marquell Smith, a gay Chicagoan the Inclusive Community Project Political Action Committee who was kicked out of the Marines under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and then worked for its repeal, launched the Inclusive Community Project Political Action Committee with a fund-raising event Thursday night. The PAC will lobby legislators through phone banks, trips to the state capitol in Springfield, “and peaceful, orderly protests at district offices,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Smith said that on previous trips to Springfield to push for the legislation, he noticed “there were very few minorities,” even though polls indicate that 60% of African-Americans support marriage equality.

“My goal is to get into the community,” he told the Sun-Times. My goal is to go out and find those 60% of African-Americans [and urge them] to go to their lawmakers. I believe that when you harness the power of the people, you can accomplish so much.”

The Illinois Senate has passed a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, but it failed to come up for a vote in the House before the regular session ended in May, as backers said they needed more time to gather support. It still may come up in the so-called veto session, in which lawmakers meet for a few days this month and next to take care of various items of business.

Some legislators have been cautious about predicting a timetable for the vote or the amount of support, but one state representative, Sam Yingling, expressed optimism this week. “I believe the votes are there,” he told Windy City Times. “There will always be excuses as to why the vote should be delayed, but the overwhelming majority of people in Illinois support marriage equality, and we need to vote on it and get it done.”

Equality activists have scheduled a march on Springfield for October 22, the first day of the veto session.

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