Thousands gather in Springfield for marriage equality rally

Tue. October 22, 2013 11:55 AM by News Staff

thousands gather in springfield

photo credit // waymon hudson

Rock the March kicks-off at 12 p.m. (CST)

Springfield, IL - Thousand of marriage rights advocates and allies are converging on the Illinois state capitol in Springfield for the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality.

Tuesday's rally and march is part of a broad grassroots strategy to secure final passage of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (SB-10), which cleared the Illinois Senate on Feb. 14, but stalled in the House on May 31.

After the House failed to vote on the measure, Windy City Times co-founder and publisher Tracy Baim reached out to 12 other individuals to become co-chairs and built support amongst LGBT and allied organizations to help organize the march.

"We have built a great team working on this March," Baim told "This was truly a statewide effort to March on Springfield -- something that has never been done before for LGBT rights."

Over 55 chartered buses organized by a number of supportive groups, including Equality Illinois, departed from North Side and South Side locations in Chicago around 7:30 a.m. Baim anticipates over 4,000 people will turn out for the march despite the inclement weather.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Chicago) will kick off the 90 minute rally at 1 p.m. when a diverse group of lesbian, bisexual, gay & transgender (LGBT) activists and organizers will speak. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon (D), Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R) have confirmed they will also join the rally to show their support for marriage equality.

Bishop Carlton Pearson, the founder and spiritual director of New Dimensions Chicago, will deliver the keynote address.

"My message will capitalize on civil and human rights and in being in the Land of Lincoln, who is celebrated by particularly African-Americans for signing the Emancipation Proclamation, which gave African slaves freedom, something many African-American preachers are refusing to do for one of the most marginalized people groups in modern society," Pearson told

Pearson joins a roster of LGBT leaders and their allies, plus representatives of the broad coalition working to make Illinois the 14th state to provide equal access to the freedom to marry.

Rock the March, a free one-hour concert featuring top LGBT talent with Illinois roots, will precede the rally at noon. Steve Grand, C.C. Carter, Sami Grisafe and Stephen Leonard are among those performing.

"We're rocking this march to get the blood pumping -- we need high energy right now to help push this debate of marriage equality into action so that it becomes our reality," Leonard told

At the rally's conclusion, Illinois families will lead the attendees on a march around the State Capitol.

Watch the live streamFor updates from the March on Springfield, follow @GoPride on Twitter. political editor Waymon Hudson will be live-tweeting the event, follow @WaymonHudson.

 Related Coverage: 

Gov. Patrick Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin to open March on Springfield

Bishop Carlton Pearson speaks on Illinois marriage equality and a 'gospel of inclusion'

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

March on Springfield speakers highlight broad coalition working for marriage equality

New poll shows dramatic support for marriage equality in Illinois

March On Springfield for Marriage Equality streamed live