March in Springfield supports marriage equality in Illinois

Organizations and allies in support of Illinois marriage equality have scheduled a march in Springfield for Oct. 22 in order to coincide with the Illinois State Legislature’s opening day of the fall veto session.

The March in Springfield for Marriage Equality is meant to be a push for marriage equality in the state of Illinois. Participants are hoping for the same-sex marriage bill, SB 10, to be passed by the House.

“For me, it’s both about showing support for marriage equality and a chance for the movement and its allies to come together for public support,” said Tracy Baim, co-chair and co-founder of the event. “It’s really about coming together to reinspire and re-energize people for the work ahead.”

The House failing to vote on the measure in May was one of the biggest motivations for Baim to organize the march. But she said she hopes for a more positive outcome after Tuesday’s event. 

“I realized that one of the big things missing this spring was this external pressure — you can only get so far by insider work,” she said. “I felt like maybe this was a chance to use this anger that was created in May and make something bigger and stronger. There was a lot of frustration and there still is.”

Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin will open the march, and other political figures like Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka will be in attendance.

“There was a debate whether to have politicians at the march, because this was a more grassroots effort for and by the community,” Baim said in an email. “However, the governor and Sen. Durbin have been in support of marriage equality, and their presence would attract media as well.”

She added that most of the speakers are not elected officials and will address the issue of marriage equality from diverse perspectives.

One of those speakers is alumna Anurag Lahiri, who is also one of the co-chairs of the march. After attending the University of Illinois for her master’s in social work, she began working at Apna Ghar, a domestic violence agency for South Asians and other communities. 

She also serves on the board of Trikone Chicago, a LGBT South Asian organization, and volunteers with other various organizations related to social issues both in Chicago and on a national level.

Other than the march’s main purpose of fighting for marriage equality, Lahiri hopes that it helps bring together the LGBT community. She said sometimes she feels that groups like hers feel invisible within the community.

“I feel like some immigrants and Asians or South Asians are more isolated from the mainstream queer and even anti-racist queer groups,” Lahiri said. “So I’m hoping that by being part of a more mainstream event, people will listen and share, they’ll connect with us.”

Baim said that when organizing the march, she “definitely had a mission of diversity,” and added that her 12 co-chairs come from a variety of backgrounds.

“Ultimately, I’m hoping that when we’re there, when people see us and hear us, it will send a message that we’re a diverse community,” Lahiri said. “Based on our backgrounds and experiences, we all have very nuanced opinions and beliefs.”

If adopted, SB 10 would make Illinois the 15th state to allow same-sex marriage. Local State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-103, and State Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-52, are both cosponsors of the bill. 

Eleanor can be reached at [email protected]