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updated: 10/23/2013 5:34 PM

Gay marriage opponents invoke God, free speech

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  • Pastor Joe Keller of Kankakee holds a giant cross as Linda Jernigan of Chicago speaks to the crowd during "Defend Marriage Lobby Day" at the state Capitol Wednesday in Springfield.

      Pastor Joe Keller of Kankakee holds a giant cross as Linda Jernigan of Chicago speaks to the crowd during "Defend Marriage Lobby Day" at the state Capitol Wednesday in Springfield.
    Associated Press

  • Video: Gay marriage protest

 
 

Demonstrators flooded the Illinois Capitol rotunda Wednesday asking state lawmakers to reject the push to approve same-sex marriage, emphasizing in part religious beliefs that define marriage as between a man and woman.

"The standard of the family with one man and one woman is fundamental to the health of children," said David Norck of Wheaton, who was among the crowd.

"From one man and one woman marriages comes fidelity, monogamy and permanence," Norck said.

The same-sex marriage issue has over the last year become one of the top social issues being debated in Illinois, as evidenced by the competing rallies of thousands of people over the last two days at the Capitol.

Though Illinois is controlled by Democrats who are more likely to favor same-sex marriage, opponents continue to win the fight so far on the strength of Republicans, African-American lawmakers and others who were represented at the rally.

"I think what impressed me was the great diversity of the people who were there," said Arlington Heights' Church of Christian Liberty Pastor Calvin Lindstrom.

On Tuesday, top Democrats pushed same-sex marriage as a matter of fairness at a rally punctuated by speeches from Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. State Rep. Sam Yingling, a Round Lake Beach Democrat and openly gay lawmaker, said he thinks the vote needs to be soon to force his colleagues to decide "if they're going to vote for discrimination or vote for equal protection under the law."

At Wednesday's rally, state Sen. Jim Oberweis, a Sugar Grove Republican, used the podium to tell the crowd he's collecting petition signatures to run against Durbin, and GOP candidate for governor and state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale said he'd veto same-sex marriage legislation if elected.

But the issue is not entirely a partisan battle.

New Illinois House GOP Leader Jim Durkin said Tuesday he won't vote for same-sex marriage, but in March 18 primary elections, he will back Republican incumbents who do. State Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein Republican, is facing a possible primary challenge over his support of same-sex marriage.

"I support every one of my incumbents, absolutely," Durkin said. "We're going to disagree on issues. But ... I will do everything I can to make sure that the incumbents that I am serving with will be nominated in March."

•The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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