Families from Across Illinois Visit Capitol to Urge Passage of Freedom to Marry


Edwin C. Yohnka, ACLU of Illinois - 847.687.1129 (cell)

Bernard Cherkasov, Equality Illinois - 312.520.4919

Erik Roldan, Lambda Legal - 312.545.8140

SPRINGFIELD – February 20, 2013 – Gay and lesbian couples and their families gathered in Springfield today to meet with State Representatives and urge them to pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, continuing the momentum from last week’s historic Illinois Senate vote.  Recently assigned to the House Executive Committee, Senate Bill 10 positions Illinois to become the 10th state in the nation to recognize the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. 

“This legislation is about simple fairness for the thousands of loving families across Illinois,” said Rick Wade, standing next to his partner Tim Kee.  Wade and Kee have been together for 15 years and live in Marion, in a house built on land that was Rick's great-great-grandparents' homestead. “We are here to have a real conversation with our representatives on this issue.” 

A Crain’s/Ipsos poll released Tuesday shows Illinoisans supporting marriage equality, with 50 percent in favor and only 29 percent opposed.  Of the 50 percent in support, 37 percent “strongly” support the freedom to marry, according to the poll.  Every major newspaper serving Illinois has endorsed the marriage equality bill, including the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Herald, the Peoria Journal Star, the Springfield Journal-Register, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  In its most recent Sunday edition the Daily Herald wrote, “the Illinois Senate has done its part to advance the notion of human rights in Illinois. Now it’s up to the state House.”

Among the couples are Anne Dickey and Laura Hartman, who live in Rock Island and have been together for seven years.  “We got a civil union last year, but we want to be able to celebrate the real thing at our church with all of our friends and family,” they said.  Anne and Laura belong to St. John’s Lutheran Church and are raising their son Theodore.

“Dan and I have been married for 40 years and both of our families have been in Illinois for generations.  Our son is a veterinarian and lives in Australia with his husband.  Because their marriage status affects their immigration, we need Illinois to say ‘yes’ to marriage equality, so we can have our sons with us and our family back together,” said Jackie and Dan Frett, of Hinsdale.

“We have been together for 21 years. Two years ago, we entered into a civil union after getting our license at the Champaign County Clerk’s office,” said Michelle Franke and Michelle Chapell. “We want our daughter Rose to know that our family has the same legal status as any other Champaign family. We’re a unit just like any other family.”

“We want to be able to say we are married, because it means so much more than any other term can.  We do not want our children to grow up confused about why their parents cannot be married,” said Angelica Lopez.  Lopez and her partner Mercado have been together for 14 years and live in Logan Square, Chicago, with their children Isabel and Indigo.

In a visit to Chicago on February 15, President Obama talked about the need for supportive families in our society, saying “there's no more important ingredient for success, nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence than strong, stable families ... that includes foster parents, and that includes grandparents, and extended families; it includes gay and straight parents." 

Illinois Unites for Marriage – a coalition led by Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois – is continuing its statewide campaign in support of the bill, marshaling support and urging allies to step up contacts with their legislators.  The coalition supporting the freedom of all loving, committed couples to marry – already strong with business, labor and community leaders, civic organizations, faith institutions and members of the clergy, African-American and Hispanic leaders, Republicans and Democrats – continues to grow.

The families listed above are available to speak on their stories; please contact Ed Yohnka at 847.687.1129 to arrange an interview.  Information about SB 10 is available at, along with information about how citizens can make their voices heard.



For additional information, contact Eric Herman at 773.405.8124.

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