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Same-sex marriage bill signing expected to draw thousands

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Updated: December 21, 2013 6:42AM

More than 3,000 people are expected to flood into the University of Illinois Forum on Wednesday to witness history.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is set to sign same-sex marriage legislation into law.

Major Democratic donor Fred Eychaner, who was a force behind the movement to advance the legislation, has made a “meaningful” contribution to help pay for the public ceremony at the Near West Side arena, a source close to Eychaner said.

Illinois Unites for Marriage — a coalition of groups that has advocated for allowing gays and lesbians to legally marry — meanwhile, is bankrolling after-parties to celebrate what they’ve deemed a successful campaign to get a resistant Illinois Legislature to pass the bill this fall.

“Everybody wants to come who has the chance to come,” said coalition spokesman John Kohlhepp. “It’s a piece of history. It’s not every day when people get to be there when human rights and full citizenship are extended to a group of people.”

Bernard Cherkasov of Equality Illinois said he wouldn’t be surprised if they get a full house on Wednesday.

“It’s an emotional victory,” he said. “We have spoken to so many couples who have been together for decades and decades who have been waiting for the moment to happen in Illinois.”

Quinn spokeswoman Katie Hickey said the forum’s capacity is 3,000 but overflow rooms will also be available.

She did not have details on the cost of the event.

Doors will open for the public at 2 p.m. To find out what can and cannot be brought into the facility, go to

Contributing: Fran Spielman


Twitter: @natashakorecki

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