WESTERN SPRINGS – About 120 protesters opposing a same-sex marriage bill awaiting vote by the Illinois House gathered Saturday afternoon outside the Western Springs office of State Rep. Jim Durkin, who has not taken a public stance on the legislation.
On Thursday, Gov. Pat Quinn urged lawmakers to send him a bill legalizing gay marriage – which the Illinois Senate passed on Valentine's Day. But Durkin, a Republican who prior to last year's election said he does not support gay marriage, said he's focusing on other more pressing issues, including pension reform and a federal court order to pass legislation regarding firearms by the first week of June.
"I know what their message is, and I hear it, and I'll take it into consideration," said Durkin by phone about the demonstration, held by the Illinois Family Institute (IFI). " ... There's bigger priorities in the state and for me."
The rally outside Durkin's office, 915 55th St., featured four speakers, including IFI's David E. Smith and Father Thomas Koys of St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Chicago. During one speech, one of the 10 to 15 counter protesters began yelling and then broke the stick of a sign being held to block him, said Andrew Willis, who was at the demonstration. The man was told to be quiet by police.
"That was the first time anything like that happened," said Willis, of Homer Glen, who has attended other IFI demonstrations.
IFI, a nonprofit ministry that supports traditional marriage, also held demonstrations Saturday at state representatives' offices in Chicago Heights and Aurora.
"I'm a resident in [Durkin's] district, and we wanted to encourage him to keep with his district and supporting traditional marriage and not changing it," Willis said.