SPRINGFIELD -- Thousands of opponents of same-sex marriage in Illinois held a rally outside the Capitol in 15-degree temperatures Wednesday and later attempted to lobby legislators on the bill that cleared the state Senate last week.
A House committee was scheduled to hear the bill this morning, but Rep. Daniel Burke, D-Chicago, chair of the House Executive Committee, announced that the legislation (SB10) would not be called.
Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Peoria Catholic Diocese had promoted the "Protect Marriage Illinois" rally organized by the Illinois Family Institute, but the bishop did not attend the event.
Several other speakers, however, decried the bill during a 30-minute rally held in the cold and without a sound system. Speakers were forced to shout out their message to the hundreds of people surrounding a statue of Abraham Lincoln at the front of the Statehouse.
"They have called this the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act," said state Rep. David Reis, R-Ste. Marie, "but I think they should call it the Religious Persecution and Marriage Unfairness Act.
"But when you're a county clerk and you don't believe in same-sex marriage and you have to issue that license, that's religious persecution."
Reis urged those at the rally to tell legislators "to protect the institution of marriage in Illinois, and that they have civil unions and we don't want any more."
Pastor Richard Giovannetti of the Standing in the Word Ministries of Morris, told the crowd that "when we have gay marriage we are going to enslave millions of people back into a lifestyle that we know that God can set them free from."
Pastor Linda Jernigan, who said she was "a former lesbian" who now operates a ministry in the Chicago area, asked repeatedly, "Did you know that God can deliver homosexuals?"
She said it was "a chosen behavior" and that "if you allow God, He can change your behavior."
"Don't believe the lie," she said, "that homosexuality is a civil right. It is not a civil right. Homosexuality is a choice."