Groups both for and against marriage equality in Illinois faced off in the city's Little Village neighborhood May 18, in what is expected to be the last demonstration before the end of the state's legislative session.
Approximately 90 demonstrators turned out to oppose the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act," which would legalize same-sex marriage. That group had come at the urging of anti-gay organization the Illinois Family Institute, which has organized rallies every Saturday for the last month.
The rallies have targeted wavering lawmakers, and pro-LGBT groups have organized to counter each of them. The Little Village protest was intended to target 21st Dist. Democrat Silvana Tabares, a journalist-turned lawmaker who took office this year.
Just 22 pro-LGBT protesters turned out for the late morning demonstration. That group marched from Tabares' district office to Shedd Park, where they confronted the anti-gay rally.
Police kept the two groups on opposite sides of the street. LGBT protesters shouted at anti-gay demonstrators, who largely did not respond.
The conflicting rallies caught the attention of many area residents in the otherwise quiet residential neighborhood.
Abdul Aziz-Hassan, a resident of Little Village for seven years, walked up the block with his wife and child to oppose the anti-gay rally.
"I'm just offended by these people's presence in my neighborhood," Hassan said. "There are other issues on the forefront here."
Over the sound patriotic music playing from IFI speakers, Hassan said he wants to see his neighbors working against gun violence in the neighborhood, not opposing LGBT rights.
"I'm not going to support hate in any form," he said. But he added that he felt many of the anti-gay protesters were not from his neighborhood.
Anti-gay protesters sang, chanted and listened to speeches, while pro-gay demonstrators shouted opposition. Anti-gays chanted, "One woman, one man." Pro-gays responded, "One tax payer, one tax payer."
The pro-LGBT counter protest was organized by Gay Liberation Network, The Association of Latino Men for Action, La Voz de los de Abajo and The Civil Rights Agenda, according to the event's Facebook page.
A House vote on equal marriage is expected in the coming days as the spring legislation comes to an end May 31. The bill has already passed the Senate. Gov. Pat Quinn strongly supports the bill and said he will sign it into law.
Video by Kate Sosin here: www.youtube.com/watch .
Additional photo spread here: www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/photospreadthumbs.php .