An early Christmas present ...
Outspoken anti-gay mega-church pastor and Illinois State Sen. James T. Meeks will not run for re-election.
The 55-year-old senior pastor of the Salem Baptist Church has been a senator since 2003. Meeks will finish the term that ends in January 2013, a spokesperson told the Sun-Times.
Meeks, who declined to be interviewed Thursday afternoon, had hinted earlier this year that he would step down after being stymied in his efforts to pass school-voucher legislation to help families with children in underperforming, inner-city schools.
In 2006, Meeks contemplated challenging former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. ... In 2010, Meeks put his toe in the water again for higher political office, mounting a brief run for Chicago mayor. But trailing U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) among African-American candidates in some polls, Meeks dropped out of the race last December and shifted his support to former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.
Part of Meeks’ difficulty in mounting a mayoral candidacy related stemmed from anger in Chicago’s gay community over his remarks in 2006 characterizing homosexuality as "an evil sickness" and for his 2010 vote against Illinois’ civil unions law. Meeks also alienated some female voters with his opposition to abortion rights.
Meeks' mayoral candidacy was plagued from almost the beginning. During a mayoral forum, Meeks said that Asians, Hispanics and women "should not" be considered "minorities" in the city’s affirmative-action contracting programs. The comment created a firestorm.
Meeks’ opposition to the recent landmark vote on civil unions drew harsh criticism from fellow politicians and LGBT activists. Meeks was the only black legislator voting against the bill. Days after voting against civil unions, Meeks greeted diners at the restaurant owned by openly gay Ald. Tom Tunney (44th). The largely gay clientele was not enthused.
Meeks also opposed Illinois' LGBT non-discrimination legislation and was the only Black in the General Assembly to vote against that bill, too.
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