November 14, 2012
By Jacob Combs
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s support of marriage equality isn’t news in and of itself: at this September’s Democratic National Convention, he specifically praised President Obama for his support of equal marriage rights, asking the crowd if it preferred “a person who wanted to keep ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ or a president who believes that who you love should not keep you from serving the country you love?” And when Chick-Fil-A’s opposition to marriage equality became a bit of a media sensation over the summer, he joined other liberal mayors in supporting the idea of a ban on the fast food restaurant in his city.
What’s intriguing though, as NBC Chicago 5 reported yesterday, is that the issue is one of this top priorities:
The mayor on Tuesday listed it third — behind pension reform and a Chicago casino — in his list of priorities he’d like to see Springfield tackle in the upcoming legislative session.
“One is retirement security and pension reform so we can give taxpayers and the public employees retirement security, which is something we can’t say today,” Emanuel told reporters during a visit to Austin Polytechnical Academy High School to announce an investment in the school’s manufacturing program. “Two, I was advocating, as have other people for 25 years, a casino for the city of Chicago, but one in which I’ve committed [that] all the resources will go into school modernization and building new schools and modernizing our schools so our kids will have the best facilities to learn in. Third, I will continue to advocate, as I have since a congressman, that we also pass marriage equality and end the discrimination on the books.”
Illinois began offering civil unions to its same-sex couples in June 2011, and there are two lawsuits pending in state court seeking to bring marriage equality to the state. But as NBC Chicago 5 points out, last week’s elections changed the makeup of the Illinois legislature, which could make Mayor Emanuel’s third priority more of a real possibility on the legislative front:
Democrats now hold veto-proof majorities in the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate, and Emanuel said that while Gov. Pat Quinn “has to be a part” of pushing for marriage equality, he’s already started conversations with other state lawmakers.
“I’ve been in touch with … State Rep. Greg Harris, State Rep. Deb Mell and leaders in both chambers, so Illinois will now take the next step in making sure that our values are reflected in our laws,” he said.
As always, we’ll be following marriage equality news out of Illinois to see what comes of these discussions. But it certainly seems quite clear now that last Tuesday provided the opportunity for new conversations for equality across the country.
Updated at 11:30 am Eastern to correct headline (my previous one was wishful thinking, I suppose)