Protesters rally for Aurora representative's support of marriage equality bill

Mon. April 22, 2013 9:12 AM by Daniel Cameron

lgbt supporters outnumbered those opposed

photo credit // daniel cameron

LGBT supporters outnumbered those opposed to marriage equality

Aurora, IL - Two groups of protesters with entirely different messages spent their Saturday afternoon at a rally outside the Aurora office of 83rd Dist. Rep. Linda Chapia LaVia, who reportedly remains fence-bound on the issue of SB10.

At the corner of Galena and Stolp those two groups stood for almost two hours to defend their positions on the bill which, if passed, based on a promise by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to sign it into law, would make Illinois the tenth state in the union to legalize same-sex marriage outright.

At least four police cars stood guard to maintain the people's right to assemble. Other officers controlled the gawking traffic a few blocks away from Chapia LaVia's offices.

One group attending the rally was organized by Illinois Unites for Marriage in an effort to counter the planned anti-gay demonstration. More than 200 people, smiling and laughing somewhat tensely, carried signs with colorfully written slogans such as "Love is Love," "Marriage Equality is a Right," "Legalize Love," "Catholic Parents of Gay & Lesbian Kids," "Marriage Equality For All." Decidedly a few steps away from the battle, a man held a sign that read "Your Gay Straight Alliance: Aurora/Fox Valley Chapter," with no message at all.

Charlie Rice-Minosa, Field Organizer for Illinois Unites for Marriage, distributed sheets with a song list for ralliers to sing, including "Love Will Keep Us Together" by Captain and Tennille, "All You Need is Love" by the Beatles, and "So Happy Together" by The Turtles.

Standing on the other side was a group of approximately 200 protesters, overwhelmingly Latino, except for the preachers, dressed mostly in black, standing solidly. The demonstration was headed by anti-gay groups including the Illinois Family Institute, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, Total Living Network and Aurora Christian Ministries Network.

Two adults held a sign reading simply, "Stop Promoting Homosexuality to Children," subtitled,

Somewhat confusingly in regards to which part of the state the ralliers on both sides most likely reside, pamphlets were distributed to the second group in both English and Spanish titled, "What same-sex 'marriage' has done to Massachusetts: It's far worse than most people realize."

The pamphlet included a leaflet inside completely in Spanish titled "La Defensa Del matrimonio: Preguntas Y Respuestas, in English "The Defense of Marriage: Questions & Answers."

At one point, the anti-gay group of protesters retreated and moved much closer to Chapia LaVia's office stairs. Three or four preachers made short speeches, which were translated into Spanish.

"We are not here to hate," stated Dan Hass, Director of Ministries at Total Living Network, "We are here to debate. We bless all those who are here today on both sides of this issue."

"We can use our sexualities as an assault weapon," stated Pastor Pat McManus, Aurora Christian Ministries Network, "Let's use our sexualities as an assault weapon. "

Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation Network told the LGBT-supportive crowd, "What we do makes a difference. We need to be out in the streets. As anyone who has been involved in this type of things before knows, legal equality isn't all it's cracked up to be."

The crowd laughed.

"We need social equality employment equality, educational equality, hospital equality, we need all these rights," Thayer concluded.

By Noon, the planned end time for the rally, sentiments of both sides degenerated when one side began chants from both the 1964 Dixie Cups song, "Chapel of Love," with lyrics, "Going to the chapel/ and we're/ gonna get married" and the hymn "Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so" drowning out the Total Living Network/Aurora Christian Ministries Network's simpler "One man, one woman."

The Illinois House could vote the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (SB10) any day. Marriage equality advocates continue to encourage supporters to contact their representatives.