After setback, College Democrats push forward on Illinois same-sex marriage


Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

A student phone banks as part of College Democrats’ push for same-sex marriage legalization in Illinois. Despite the failure of a similar bill in the spring, the group is pushing ahead with weekly events.

Jeanne Kuang, Assistant Campus Editor

Despite a setback in the Illinois House this spring, NU’s College Democrats plans to continue its advocacy for same-sex marriage in Illinois this month.

The group will hold weekly phone banking sessions in coordination with Equality Illinois, a state LGBT rights organization. The organizations hope to push a same-sex marriage legalization bill through the General Assembly during the veto session at the end of the month: The bill failed to go to vote in the House in late May.

Same-sex marriage is one of College Democrats’ “legislative initiatives,” three issues the group chose last academic year to focus on and advocate for, president Lauren Izaak said. The group phone banked for the same-sex marriage initiative twice in the spring.

(College Democrats push Illinois marriage equality)

“It just happened to be a really historic moment when we started doing this. It was coming up for a vote,” said Izaak, a Weinberg senior. “We felt like we could really make a difference on an important issue for our generation.”

At the sessions, where an Equality Illinois representative is present, participants call Illinois residents whose state representatives are on the fence about the issue. Izaak said the callers are focusing less on changing people’s views and more on finding supporters of the legislation.

“Basically we’re informing them that the House is going to vote for this in the veto session,” Izaak said. “If they’re in favor of marriage equality, we’re going to ask them to call the representative and tell them that they support marriage equality.”

Weinberg sophomore Kevin Cheng, College Democrats’ vice president of programming, said the phone banks support strategic decisions made by Equality Illinois.

“We’re just doing everything we can to rally support on campus,” he said.

Medill freshman Mollie Cahillane participated in the first phone banking session Monday night. She said she persuaded a few people to call their representatives and voice support for the legislation.

“I had never phone banked before, and especially when you’re talking about a controversial issue, you can be a little worried about people’s reactions,” she said. “It’s still definitely something I want to try again.”

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