Interesting political developments in Chicago, which will soon experience its first open-seat mayoral election in more than 60 years. One of the early leading contenders has been James Meeks, the outspoken and anti-gay South Side pastor of one of the city's largest mega-churches and a state senator. A coalition of more than 60 Black groupsand leaders is hoping to choose the Black community's "consensus candidate" and has narrowed their choice to two names.
"Black elected officials, religious and community leaders snubbed Meeks in favor of former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and Board of Review Commissioner Larry Rogers after a 'heated and passionate' debate that dragged on until nearly midnight Wednesday. Meeks' communications director Brian Zises sloughed off the insult. 'We're not too concerned. It doesn't come as a surprise. We don't know who that coalition is speaking for,' Zises said. He added, 'Sen. Meeks is going to be a mayor for the entire city — not just a small group. This has no impact on his decision to run.' Pressed on whether Meeks would enter the mayor's race without the group's support, Zises said, 'He hasn't announced yet.'"
"The coalition plans to meet again soon and put its resources, and money, behind one candidate," a spokesperson told the Tribune.
"Meeks said he has collected more than 30,000 signatures on petitions to get his name on the ballot, and that he will announce in 'the next few weeks' whether to formally launch a bid," the Tribune adds. "Meeks said members of the group, formally known as the Chicago Coalition for Mayor, never told him they had concerns about his decision to remain pastor at Salem Baptist Church if he is elected."
As chairman of the Illinois General Assembly's Black Caucus, Meeks has been "one of the most influential foes of legislation proposed by gay rights activists." Meeks, who has been criticized for calling homosexuality "an evil sickness", opposed Illinois' LGBT non-discrimination legislation and was the only African American in the Illinois Senate and House to vote against the bill.
To contrast: In addition to being the first Black woman to be elected to the United States Senate and only one of two Blacks to serve in the Senate in the 20th century ... Carol Moseley Braun has long been a champion of gay rights and was one of only 14 Senate votes to oppose the odious Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.