Illinois State Sen. and Rev. James Meeks, the Chicago mayoral candidate and outspoken anti-gay pastor of one of the city's largest mega-churches, greeted diners at the historic Ann Sather restaurant on the city's North Side, reports the Sun-Times. The restaurant is owned by Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), the City Council’s first openly gay alderman, and serves a largely gay clientele.
"I’m reaching out today," Meeks said outside the restaurant... Tunney, who has criticized Meeks’ vote last week against a state bill legalizing civil unions for gays, was not at the restaurant to greet Meeks Wednesday. "I wouldn’t vote for him for dog-catcher," retired pharmacist Frank Nussbaum said as Meeks walked into the restaurant. "He’s a homophobe. He’s a religious crazy, I think. We don’t need someone like that. He’s got a big nerve coming here."
Meeks walked around the restaurant shaking hands and getting a friendly reception from the patrons. "We’ve been reading about him. I don’t know who I’m voting for, but he made a good impression," Bill Tompsett, 61, said after Meeks left his table.
Finally, Meeks approached Nussbaum. "Can I ask you why you voted against civil unions?" Nussbaum asked. "I believe in the sanctity of marriage," Meeks said. "I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman." "I disagree with you, and I respect you," Nussbaum said. "Sanctity — that’s a religious term. It has nothing to do with a civil union. You’re in a restaurant owned by a gay man."
Two weeks ago, the Illinois General assembly passed the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (SB 1716) by a 32-24 and 61-52 votes in the Senate and House, respectively. Of the almost 30 Black legislators in both chambers, Meeks was one of only two to vote NO.
Good luck with your "reaching out", pastor. Too bad you couldn't do it by casting a vote when it mattered.