Supporting same-sex marriage too late is the latest attack lobbed at Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth by her primary opponent.
Duckworth supported Illinois’ marriage equality law in 2013 and the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing it nationwide earlier this year. But during her first congressional campaign in 2006, she opposed legalizing same-sex marriage, while also being against a constitutional amendment banning it.
That stance is being used by Democratic rival Andrea Zopp has a sign of Duckworth’s lack of leadership.
“It is the kind of issue that you can’t wait until the political climate, the political winds change,” Zopp said. “You need leadership and leadership capital to change the political winds, not wait until they change and then step up and say ‘I’m for it.’”
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Zopp was still in the private sector in 2006, and says while supported same-sex marriage at the time, her position on it “was not relevant” in her professional life. After becoming president of the Chicago Urban League in 2010, she says she used her position to advance the issue in Illinois.
Duckworth has not alone among Illinois Democrats in her stance on same-sex marriage in 2006. Even President Obama was against legalizing it until 2011, but Zopp feels Duckworth’s old position should matter to voters in the primary race.
“I think it’s wonderful that her opinion did evolve,” Zopp said. “I’m talking about what kind of leadership are we going to send to Washington.”
Duckworth’s campaign mentioned Obama’s change on this issue in its response to Zopp’s criticisms.
“Tammy’s leadership on this issue is clear. She opposed a ban on same sex marriage in 2006, and like the President has evolved further over the years into being a national leader on human rights and equality issues,” said Duckworth’s campaign spokesman Matt McGrath in a statement.
The man both candidates are trying to unseat, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), publicly supported same-sex marriage in 2013, becoming one of the first Republicans in Congress to take such a position.