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Groups stage rival protests in Downers Grove for and against gay marriage

Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 11:10 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, May 4, 2013 6:23 p.m. CDT
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(Bill Ackerman – backerman@shawmedia.com)
State Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, speaks to anti-gay marriage protesters in front of his office until he's shouted down when he states his support of same-sex marriage on Saturday. Protesters face off in front of his Downers Grove office over the same-sex marriage bill awaiting a vote by the Illinois House of Representatives.

DOWNERS GROVE – Activist groups on opposing sides of the gay marriage debate demonstrated their views on Saturday outside of state Rep. Ron Sandack's office in Downers Grove.

Sandack, a Republican, has voiced support for the same-sex marriage bill awaiting a vote in the Illinois House of Representatives. That stance has drawn the ire of the Illinois Family Institute, a conservative group that opposes the bill.

"We invited Rep. Sandack to come on out to talk to the group and to talk about his views on marriage," IFI Executive Director David Smith said. "We're trying to encourage him to uphold what marriage has been throughout history. And encourage him not to cave into the rhetoric of the left, which is trying to redefine marriage."

Sandack said the office would be closed, and previously told the Reporter he would not be present – as he had familiy activities planned – but he showed up on Saturday morning.

He was shouted down when he began to say he was in support of gay marriage.

However, Sandack said he respects the IFI's right to peaceful assembly.

"I appreciate their stance," he said. "I hope they can appreciate mine."

In response to the IFI protest, The Civil Rights Agenda, a pro-LGBT group, planned a counter-protest.

CRA Executive Director Anthony Martinez said his group wants to show its support for Sandack, and for "his decision to vote for this very important bill that affects the lives of people throughout the state."

Martinez added that he wanted to make sure it was "a peaceful protest."

The meeting of the two groups is the latest in a series of face-to-face demonstrations, including one in Chicago's Humboldt Park last week.

The same-sex marriage bill was passed by the Illinois Senate in February but has languished in the House since.

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