Chicago sports legends Ernie Banks and Richard Dent are among the athletes urging Illinois lawmakers to legalize gay marriage.

Dent, who primarily played for the Chicago Bears during his 14 year career in the National Football League (NFL), was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. Banks, who played 19 seasons on the Chicago Cubs team, is so associated with Chicago baseball that he's been nicknamed Mr. Cub. He's a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Dent and Banks joined former Chicago Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, a former Chicago Bear, in signing a letter to lawmakers considering a bill which would make Illinois the 10th state to adopt marriage equality.

“We come from a variety of backgrounds, and we have played different sports for different teams,” the group wrote in the letter. “But one thing that binds us together is our belief in the importance of fairness and respect in all aspects of life.”

“In sports, any time a player is not treated with fairness and respect, the game is diminished. Similarly, treating any group of people as second-class citizens hurts us all, because discrimination is wrong no matter whom the target is.”

After passage in the Illinois Senate, the measure awaits action in the House.

(Related: Rahm Emanuel pushes for passage of gay marriage bill in Illinois House.)