Almost all of Chicago's leading mayoral candidates support the bill. The lone holdout: State Sen. and Rev. James Meeks, the outspoken anti-gay pastor of one of the city's largest mega-churches, who is reportedly working "behind the scenes" with other anti-gay Black pastors to "derail its passage", reports ChicagoPride.com.
"Requesting anonymity, a source in Springfield tells ChicagoPride.com that State Sen. and Rev. James Meeks, who represents the 15th District on Chicago's south side, has allegedly been working behind the scenes with other African-American ministers to derail passage in the House as an effort to keep the legislation from making it to the Senate, thus relieving the prominent minister from declaring his vote, for or against, on record. 'Rev. Meeks has been playing fast and loose with the LGBT community,' said the source.
"The 54-year-old Meeks ... reached out to influential members of Chicago's LGBT community in October after concerns were raised over his anti-gay stance. ChicagoPride.com tried unsuccessfully Monday afternoon to reach Rev. Meeks for comment. Unlike Meeks, several other high-profile Chicago mayoral candidates have endorsed the bill, including former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun and Gery Chico."
llinois House Speaker Michael Madigan says there are enough votes to pass the legislation, adds ChicagoPride.com.
In October, Meeks was passed over as the so-called Black "consensus candidate", reportedly because he planned to continue to pastor the anti-gay 22,000 member Salem Baptist Church if elected mayor.
Meeks, who has called 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. Meeks is chairman of the Illinois General Assembly's Black Caucus but it's not known how many votes he could influence at this point. Last year when the bill was in committee, White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett reportedly lobbied black state lawmakers "who were on the fence about backing the legislation" and several changed their minds.
The Roman Catholic Church and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) are also lobbying against the bill. Cardinal Francis George, the head of the Chicago's Roman Catholic archdiocese, claims the bill will "change the nature of marriage" and urged state lawmakers to reject it.
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