On Saturday, July 13, LGBT citizens, allies and activists converged near Congress Plaza in Chicago for a rally to call on the House of Representatives to pass marriage equality legislation.
The purpose of the rally was to spread the message that despite the Supreme Court’s recent strike of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, many states, including Illinois, still have a long way to go in the fight for complete equality.
“While the Supreme Court has given some advances for some states, the vast majority of the nation was left behind,” says Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network.
The rally had over 100 participants and reached over 1,000 spectators, starting at the Taste of Chicago entrance at Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway and ending at Washington Square Park.
The group gathered and marched down Michigan Avenue, echoing such chants as “L-G-B-T, we demand equality” and “Hey Obama, we won’t wait, equal rights in every state.” Overall, they were met with positive response from Chicago citizens and tourists alike, with many onlookers cheering them on or joining in the chants.
“When we marched downtown, people were with us, high-fiving us and shaking our hands,” said marcher Ryne Poelker, of the International Socialist Organization, “and it felt great.”
Poelker, a History student at University of Illinois at Chicago, also emphasized the importance of the march giving visibility to the LGBT movement. He contrasted the marching strategy to “pocketbook activism,” which focuses on collecting donations for a cause, rather than increasing awareness.
Thayer also highlighted the impact that such marches have on LGBT youth simply by spreading messages of equality, but affirmed that the movement still has a long way to go, and that legal marriage equality is just the beginning.
“Not every religion believes that equality for all God’s children is wrong,” said Reverend Suzanne Anderson Hurdle in a speech.