Anti-gay protesters in Downers Grove more than doubled LGBTs and allies at a rally outside Rep. Ron Sandack's office May 4, but the Republican told crowds that his vote on the state's equal marriage bill was a firm "yes."
More than 200 rallied against SB10, which would legalize same-sex marriage, in a demonstration organized by the Illinois Family Institute (IFI), an anti-gay group working against the bill.
Approximately 75 equal marriage supporters attended a counter protest organized by The Civil Rights Agenda and Gay Liberation Network.
The demonstration was the third face off between opposing sides in three weeks. IFI has scheduled demonstrations against wavering reps. every week. LGBT groups have scrambled to assemble opposition to those demonstrations.
Sandack recently came out in favor of SB10, a position that he reaffirmed at a brief appearance during the Saturday rallies.
"I truly respect that you're making your voice heard," Sandack told demonstrators. "If the bill is called, I'm on it."
Sandack told reporters that he thinks Republican colleagues who vote against the bill might regret that vote in five years or less. He said that if he lost on the vote he would do so "with a smile."
"I didn't go to Springfield just to play defense and take votes that were just safe and easy," Sandack said.
Holly Plys, a Downers Grove resident who opposes the bill, said she was surprised and disappointed by Sandack's stance. She said she read his previous statements opposing same-sex marriage before voting.
"I voted for him based on that as did many people," Plys said. "He betrayed that."
Plys said she feels her district opposes the bill.
Another man who grew up in Downers Grove but declined to give his name, said he opposes the bill but has seen the district move in favor of same-sex marriage over the years.
Carol and Peg Collins-Schmitt live in Downers Grove. The two have a civil union and want to get married. Carol said that Sandack's support surprised them, too.
"We were so excited," Carol said. "I am lifelong Democrat but I will be supporting him and voting for him."
Event fencing surrounded both rallies, which were also divided by police. Neighborhood residents watched from across the street. Some said they supported Sandack while others said they would vote against him in the future.
One man said that he did not live in the district, but that if he did, he would vote against Sandack.
A young man and woman riding their bikes past the demonstration said they were new to the area and unaware of the controversy.
"This is ridiculous," said the man. "It's 2013."
The demonstrations attempted to shout over each other through portable sound systems, creating a racket in the otherwise quiet suburban neighborhood. One the anti-gay side, songs like "God Bless America" played over the crowd. On the pro-LGBT side, "Chapel of Love" played.
The rallies ended without incident.
A House vote on SB10 is expected any day. The bill passed the Senate on Valentine's Day. Gov. Pat Quinn has vowed to sign it into law.
Additional photo spread by Kate Sosin here: www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/photospreadthumbs.php .