As the General Assembly's fall veto session gets under way, it's still unclear whether state lawmakers will consider a bill allowing same-sex couples in Illinois to enter into civil unions. But if SB 1716 makes it through the legislative thicket and comes up for a vote, gay rights advocates in Chicago will be watching State Sen. James Meeks' position on the proposal closely.
Meeks, of course, is running for mayor of Chicago, and his past anti-gay positions are under scrutiny. With a mayoral campaign before him in a city known as a center of gay life, the senator and reverend has softened his tone on gay issues of late. Meeks has reached out to Equality Illinois, for example, and promised to uphold residents' rights as the city's leader. "I would protect all the laws of the land," he said in an interview last night on WTTW's Chicago Tonight.
It remains unclear, however, whether or not Meeks is willing to help create a law of the land that would offer greater equality for gay people. He refused yesterday to say whether or not he would support the civil unions bill should it come up for a vote during the veto session. Watch his exchange about the legislation with Carol Marin:
Perhaps Meeks has turned over a new leaf and will vote for civil unions if the bill comes up during the veto session. It certainly would not be controversial for most people in Illinois and Chicago. A September Tribune poll found that 57 percent of Illinoisians support civil unions. That level of support makes Meeks' non-answer last night all the more disheartening.