March on Springfield speakers highlight broad coalition working for marriage equality

Mon. October 14, 2013 10:23 AM by News Staff

march on springfield, oct. 22, 2013

Broad range of leaders will join LGBT families, leaders and allies at equal marriage rally

Chicago, IL - The roster of speakers, which represents the breadth and depth of the equal marriage coalition in Illinois, has been announced for the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality on Tuesday, Oct. 22, the scheduled first day of the fall veto session of the Illinois state legislature. 

"We march on Springfield to make sure that the voices of people from all over our state are heard loud and clear," the 13 co-chairs of the March on Springfield said in a joint statement. "It is time for Illinois to treat all of its citizens equally, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, and we call on the Illinois House of Representatives to pass Senate Bill 10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, during the fall veto session."

LGBT organizations, families and faith leaders will be joined at the podium by national and regional coalition partners for the 90 minute rally. They include: Michael Carrigan, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO; Rudy Lozano, Uniting America Director, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Jamie Frazier, Senior Pastor, Lighthouse Church; Bonnie Grabenhofer, National Action Vice President, National Organization for Women (NOW); Rev. Mark Kiyimba, Leader of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kampala, Uganda; Toni Weaver, President, Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (Northern Illinois Region); Scott Cross, Illinois Chapter Lead, President Barack Obama's "Organizing for Action"; and Brigid Leahy, Director, Planned Parenthood of Illinois. 

Families, couples and LGBT youth from groups that are part of the Illinois Unites coalition for equal marriage will also tell their personal stories to the thousands gathered for the March. The coalition, formed by Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and The Civil Rights Agenda and almost 100 other organizations, is led by John Kohlhepp who will also speak at the rally.

A diverse group of lesbian, bisexual, gay & transgender activists and organizers will also speak including: LZ Granderson, openly gay ESPN Senior Writer & CNN Contributor; Alexis Martinez, March on Springfield Co-Chair, and Native American Transgender activist; Marquell Smith, African-American gay veteran and founder, Inclusive Community Project; Andy Thayer, co-founder, Gay Liberation NetworkRobert Castillo, Latino community activist; Vernita Gray, African-American community activist; Liz Thomson, Director, Asian American Resource Center, University of Illinois/Chicago; Bro. Michael Oboza, Founder, Bisexual Queer Alliance Chicago; and Tracy Baim, March on Springfield Co-Chair and Founder & Publisher, Windy City Media Group.

More than three dozen elected leaders from state and local government who support marriage equality will be introduced at the rally by Kevin Boyer and Kim Hunt, co-chairs of the March on Springfield. 

The March on Springfield rally will take place from 1 to 2:30 pm. It will be preceded by Rock The March – a free one-hour concert featuring top LGBT talent with Illinois roots. At the rally's conclusion, Illinois families will lead the attendees on a march around the State Capitol.

The concept for the March itself was born after the non-vote on Illinois' marriage equality bill this past May when Baim, founder and publisher of the Windy City Times, wrote an editorial expounding on the needs for a march and rally in Springfield. She reached out to 12 other individuals to become co-chairs and built support amongst LGBT and allied organizations to help organize a march for marriage equality on the first day of the fall veto session.

"I realized that a lot of the efforts were more behind the scenes, or not as visible, and I wanted to create an outlet for the anger, and the pride, of people fighting for this issue," Baim told

There is no cost to attend the march and all members of the public are welcome. For more information, including a list of Springfield-bound busses with available seats, visit

Related: Rock the March features local talent in support of marriage equality in Illinois