Over a hundred opponents of same-sex marriage gathered Saturday morning outside State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit’s Aurora office, where they also faced off with gay rights activists staging a counter protest.
The Defend Marriage rally was organized by the Illinois Family Institute, a conservative non-profit that opposes Senate Bill 10—the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act—which was passed by the Illinois Senate in February and is awaiting a vote by the House.
A counter-protest was organized by local pro-LGBTQ group Fox Valley Pride with assistance from Illinois Unites and the Gay Liberation Network, said Jim Lausier, who was the primary organizer for this protest.
Lausier said he wishes there was a larger group presence at the rally, but the GLBT community was “spread thin to address three simultaneous rallies,” all happening on Saturday morning.
Kifowit, a Democrat, told Patch in her November 2012 campaign questionnaire that she supports marriage equality.
“Everyone should enjoy the same civil rights and no one should face discrimination because of their sexual orientation,” Kifowit wrote. “I believe the intent behind Illinois’ recently enacted civil unions law has done just that.”
Kifowit did not make an appearance at the rally outside her office.
“We came to [Stephanie Kifowit] and we asked her to please vote no on this legislation,” said Dan Haas, a pastor in Aurora for over 33 years and Director of ministry at Total Living Network. “We need to be sure that our state representatives understand our concerns and why we are concerned about that.”
The two opposing sides spanned the length of Montgomery road in front of Kifowit’s office, leaving several feet of space between the two parties.
The IFI played patriotic music and waved American flags on their corner, and the pro-LGBTQ received numerous “honks” of support from passing vehicles and covered their corner with a myriad of rainbow colors.
“Kids do best with a family that loves them,” said Aurora resident Kelly Imgrund, referring to the “Kids do best with a mom and dad” sign that members of the AFI were displaying. “We need to show our support.”
As representatives from the IFI and other conservatives spoke about the importance of marriage between "one man, one woman," the around 40 pro-LGBTQ supporters chanted, “What do we want? Marriage equality! When do we want it? Now!"