Illinois Faith Leaders Gather in Springfield to Support Passage of Freedom to Marry Bill

SPRINGFIELD –  On the heels of yesterday’s Senate Executive Committee vote approving the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, Illinois clergy and faith leaders gathered in Springfield today to meet with lawmakers and urge them to include gay and lesbian couples in the freedom to marry.  The leaders presented an update of the “Open Letter from Illinois Clergy and Faith Leaders,” previously released by the Illinois Unites for Marriage Coalition.  The faith letter now has the support of nearly 300 clergy from over 21 different denominations in 93 municipalities statewide.

“We believe that we are obligated to build this world on love,” said Rabbi Shoshanah Conover of Temple Sholom, Chicago. “There is no better way to strengthen the love of family and support all loving families than to insure that all loving couples are able to obtain an Illinois marriage license.”

“A central tenet of marriage is respect – respect for each other, for God, and for family.  And the bill we are praying for today is, at its core, about respect for religious differences,” said Rev. Doris Green of the Evangelical Free Baptist Church. 

Recent polls show that a majority of Americans believe gays and lesbians should have the freedom to marry, and polling shows a majority of Illinoisans likewise support it.   Marriage equality legislation has been endorsed by nearly every major newspaper in Illinois, 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.  

“I support marriage equality, because I want all families in my church, and across Illinois, to be treated equally. I believe that love is a gift of God, and all families do better when they’re fully supported by the communities in which they live,” said Pastor Mark Winters of the First Congregational United Church of Christ, Naperville.

Yesterday’s Senate Executive Committee meeting included testimony from Rev. Suzanne Anderson-Hurdle of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Romeoville, who said that, while churches that do not condone same-sex marriages should not be forced to perform them, "those of us who believe in marriage equality should have the right to perform marriage ceremonies, and we believe they should be recognized in the eyes of the law as marriages."

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 to marry for all loving, committed couples – already bolstered by 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. 

Information about SB 10 is available at, along with information about how citizens can make their voices heard.

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