Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, the progressive who has represented Chicago's 4th Ward for almost 20 years and is the Democratic nominee for President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, has reiterated her support of marriage equality. In an interview with the Chicago News Cooperative, Preckwinkle framed her support in terms of civil rights and added that it was "incumbent" on Blacks to become pro-equality.
"'My view is that it’s particularly incumbent on people who’ve been discriminated against not to discriminate against others,' said Ms. Preckwinkle, who is black. 'This is a view of the world that doesn’t always go down well in the African-American community, particularly among some African-American clergy. But few enough people want to get married these days anyway, and we shouldn’t quibble with the gender of the people who get married.' However, she cautioned county residents not to expect her to take unilateral action to make it happen. She said the General Assembly needs to make the move. 'It’s something we would support at the state level,' she said. 'Every government entity has a lobbying agenda, and that’s where I would support this.'"
Preckwinkle has supported marriage equality for some time. In a January 2010 interview with Windy City Times, Preckwinkle said that she'd use the powerful Cook County Board president position as a "bully pulpit" to raise awareness on gay rights and marriage equality.
"The county has a lobbyist in Springfield and this is one of the things our lobbyist ought to be supporting. Clearly the main mission of the county is around healthcare and criminal justice, so our lobbyist has to be focused on those issues down in Springfield, but our lobbyist also should be supporting measures that contribute to the greater good. And surely directing your lobbyist to support things like full marriage equality is right and just, and that ought to be part of our agenda as well. We should be pushing for things that are in the benefit of all of our citizens, and surely that is one."
That thinking is light years ahead of most officials on board, which manages more than a billion dollars, thousands of employees and vast services in the nation's second largest county. For many years, commissioners rubber stamped the once-venerable Chicago Democratic machine and it was considered the last bastion of patronage.
Preckwinkle is heavily favored to win Tuesday's election. Preckwinkle has long been a thorn in the side of the outgoing Mayor Richard M. Daley. She was an early supporter of Barack Obama– a resident of the 4th Ward–and supported his failed 2000 run for Congress against Bobby Rush. She's also profiled this week in the New York Times, which describes her as an "independent ... no-nonsense pragmatist wary of wasting time and energy on unwinnable causes."