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Thousands of Illinois marriage equality activists, supported by political and religious leaders, converged today on the state capitol in Springfield to call on legislators to pass the marriage bill pending in the House of Representatives.
The day was marked by an afternoon-long rally and march attended not only by grassroots activists but by Gov. Pat Quinn, U.S. senator Dick Durbin, and Illinois secretary of state Jesse White, Chicago's Windy City Times reports.
At a press conference held in conjunction with the rally, Quinn called the marriage equality bill "the most important civil rights measure of our time," according to the Times.
Quinn continued, "The time for marriage equality has come," Quinn said. "This is our hour. This is our moment. ... Marriage equality has already passed in the Illinois Senate. I am prepared to sign it as soon as the House of Representatives passes this bill." The House may vote on it in the so-called veto session, which begins today. It would make Illinois, which currently offers civil unions to same-sex couples, the 15th state with marriage equality.
At the rally, Rev. Carlton Pearson apologized for the negative attitudes many churches have adopted toward LGBT people, the Times reports. "We did not treat you right, we have not treated you right," Pearson said. "That day is stopping now." He also said the state that Abraham Lincoln called home "should have been the first" with marriage equality.
After the rally, marchers circled the capitol building while a band play "Born That Way" and "We Are Family." March organizers estimated the crowd at 5,000, and the event went off without incident.