CHICAGO
05/13/2013 03:27 pm ET

Gay Marriage Robocalls: Former Bears Player, Civil Rights Leader Call For Illinois Marriage Equality

AP

With just weeks left for the House to vote on legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois, phones in key districts have been ringing with "robocalls" both backing and opposing marriage equality in the Prairie State.

A round of pro-gay robocalls expected to go out Monday are answering back to anti-marriage equality messages the socially conservative National Organization For Marriage sent around the state less than two weeks earlier.

The latest round of calls call for a "yes" vote on Senate Bill 10 and feature civil rights leader Julian Bond and former Chicago Bears player Brendon Ayanbadejo, the Sun-Times reports. The calls are expected to go out in the districts of Illinois House Black Caucus members.

"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,” Ayanbedejo, an Illinois native, says in the call.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the robocalls illustrate a racial divide among the state's black voters on the issue.

“This is a fairly liberal area,” state Rep. Eddie Lee Jackson, an East St. Louis Democrat, told the Dispatch. “But when it comes to this particular topic, there are mixed emotions, because of religion.” Jackson, who is black, is a named target of one of the calls going out around the state.

In late May, the influential Rev. James Meeks, a former Democratic member of the state Senate, led a coalition of black clergy in a round of calls that condemned Illinois lawmakers who are publicly supporting Senate Bill 10.

State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, a Peoria Democrat, told the Peoria Journal-Star the calls don't necessarily hold sway.

“I respect Sen. Meeks, but I don’t think that a robocall from folks in Chicago is going to have a lot of influence on votes that a central Illinois lawmaker will make," Gordon-Booth told the paper.

Ever since the state Senate approved the bill on Valentine's Day, groups against marriage equality have been sending calls to voters urging them to warn their representatives they won't be reelected if they support the upcoming bill.

Last week, Gov. Pat Quinn renewed the call for lawmakers to vote on the bill, which he has promised to sign into law.

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