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Heat turns up on Illinois House to vote on marriage equality

CHICAGO – Illinois Unites for Marriage, a group in favor for marriage equality, has begun robo-calling residents of largely African-American districts in the Windy City area in an attempt to secure enough votes to pass the state's bill that would allow same-sex weddings.

Although the state Senate has already passed the marriage-equality bill and Gov. Pat Quinn is urging passage, the bill is stalled in the state House due to uncertainty of the vote. Some of the swing votes are in the largely African-American districts in the Chicago area.

One robo-call features civil rights leader Julian Bond and the other is by Brendon Ayanbadejo, who was cut this year by the NFL champion Baltimore Ravens and who once played for the Chicago Bears.

The Julian Bond script reads:

Hi, this is Julian Bond. I’m calling you about a bill pending in Springfield that will ensure fairness and equality for all Illinois couples and families. As chairman emeritus of the NAACP, I know something about fighting for what’s fair and just. Gay and lesbian couples have the same values as everyone else: love, commitment and stable families. They should have the same right to marry as the rest of us. Right now, the Illinois legislature is on the verge of extending civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples, while guaranteeing all churches can perform marriages within their faith and traditions. I urge you to join the majority of Illinoisans and stand up for fairness and family. Contact your local representative and tell them to support the freedom to marry for all. Tell them to vote yes on Senate Bill 10.

The Brendon Ayanbadejo script reads:

Hello, this is Brendon Ayanbadejo, former Chicago Bear and three-time NFL Pro Bowl linebacker. I was born in Illinois. I’m calling to ask you to support marriage equality in my home state. As the son of a biracial couple, I know there was a time in our country’s history when my parents’ relationship was not accepted by society. In fact, it wasn’t even legal; but times have changed. We have adapted and broke down those barriers. It’s time to take those steps once again in Illinois. We need to let the world know that Illinois accepts all people regardless of who they love, to let the world know that Illinois treats all people equally under the law. Join me in standing up for what is right by supporting the freedom to marry. Contact your State Representative and urge him to vote yes on Senate Bill 10.

On May 9, Gov. Quinn urged House members to take action, telling the Chicago Tribune:

"It's time to vote," Quinn said. "Illinois passing marriage equality into law, I think, sends a great signal to the people of our state and the people of America. So it's important to Illinois (that) the House of Representatives get going."

The dawdling by the Illinois House allowed Minnesota the honor of becoming the first Midwestern legislature to approve same-sex marriage. Iowa was the first to grant marriage equality, but that was permitted by a state Supreme Court ruling.

If passed, Illinois would become the 13th U.S. state to legalize gay marriage.

In the United States, same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Delaware (July 1, 2013), Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (Aug. 1), New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island (Aug. 1, 2013), Vermont and Washington -- and in Washington, D.C. It also is legal within the Coquille Indian tribe in Oregon, the Suquamish Indian tribe in Washington state and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan.