Hundreds of people converged on the Capitol steps Wednesday in a last-minute effort to erode legislative support for civil unions (search).

Though supporters claimed to have enough support for the bill to pass, protesters held out hope that Gov. M. Jodi Rell (search) would say no.

"The deeper scandal is that more people should be scandalized by this," said pastor Greg Markey, who brought a busload of parishoners from Saint Mary's Church in Norwalk to the rally.

Carrying signs, large pictures of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, and babies wrapped in quilts to shield them from the cold, the crowd chanted prayers hours before the debate in the House of Representatives began.

April Hoopes of Hamden brought her six children, who held a bright yellow handmade sign reading "Let the People Decide!" Hoopes said she's discussed civil unions with her children, who are home-schooled.

"We've talked about it in terms of God's law, that man and woman come together and God would want that," said Hoopes.

Though fewer in number, supporters of same-sex civil unions began to appear at the Capitol around noon, passing out yellow stickers that said "Equality" in bold, black letters.

Anne Stanback, president of Love Makes a Family (search), said she was cautiously optimistic that the bill would be approved and believed that tactics waged by opponents of the bill wouldn't work. While the group has been pushing for marriage -- not civil unions -- she was hopeful.

"From what I've heard, legislators have been turned off by some of the hateful phone calls they've received," she said.

Bethany Hamilton, 26, of Hartford, was waiting to get into the House gallery to watch the debate, with a yellow sticker stuck to her sweater.

"While I don't particularly believe in marriage of any sort, I think it's a fundamental right," she said.

Capitol police estimated about 350 people came to the rally. When it was over, they marched to the governor's office to deliver three boxes of petitions begging Rell not to endorse the bill and to instead support legislation that would define marriage as only between a man and woman.

"You can't change what the word of God instituted," said Sue Williams, a Vernon massage therapist. "It's like trying to say an electrician is a plumber."