WOODSTOCK – With an Illinois House committee vote on gay marriage looming, dozens of McHenry County residents rallied against same-sex marriage Monday outside state Rep. Jack Franks’ Woodstock office.
The House Executive Committee is expected to vote on the issue today, which will be the first step before it can go to a full House vote.
Several conservative groups, including Lake County Right to Life, McHenry County Right to Life and the Illinois Family Institute, helped organize Monday’s rally in an effort to push Franks to take a stand on the same-sex marriage.
“We want a response to the voters who actually put [Franks] in office,” Woodstock resident Tammy Pieri said. “We’d like an email back. We’d like a phone call back.”
The Marengo Democrat was on his way to Chicago on Monday and spoke to the Northwest Herald over the phone. He said he was not aware of Monday’s rally and would not say how he would vote on a potential gay marriage bill.
“We should not be discussing social issues,” Franks said. “The focus should be on fiscal issues.”
Franks said that Illinois is in an “absolute fiscal crisis” and focusing on the issue of same-sex marriage would be taking the focus away from the “important issues.”
“I have encouraged the sponsor not to call the bill,” Franks said. “Nothing else matters but fixing our pension crisis.”
Kathy Barnette, founder of Truth Exchange Ministries, said she wants to hear more from Franks and said she hoped the rally would encourage him to take a stand against gay marriage.
“What we’re hoping is that he will see that people are engaged and people are concerned,” she said. “He’s beholden to his constituents. … Hopefully he will vote no on the matter.”
Earlier this month, members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry and members of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays met at the offices of Franks and state Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, in support of the gay marriage bill.
“We’re here because, with all of our hearts, we want the marriage equality bill to pass,” PFLAG Council of Northern Illinois President Toni Weaver said at the Feb. 12 meeting. “We want to see those we know and love have equal treatment under the law and to have their love relationships recognized.”’
Neither Franks nor Althoff were present at the meetings.
The gay marriage bill, called the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, made it through the Senate on Feb. 14. If the bill passes the House, it will go to Gov. Pat Quinn, who strongly supports the bill.