Supporters of same-sex marriage are leaning on undecided African-American members in the Illinois House, where the measure lacks the votes to pass. In February, the Illinois Senate passed the bill.
Black members of the LGBT community visited the Capitol to lobby black lawmakers to vote in favor of the bill. Frank Walker, founder of Youth Pride Services in Chicago, says this is an important issue, especially for youths.
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“It’s important for youth to come down to be able to talk to their state representative and let them know that it is an African-American issue, because we are African-American too, and we want youth to know they live in a state that sees them as equals not as second-class citizens,” Walker said.
State Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside) supports the bill. “I see it as an equality issue. It’s a civil right, and I believe that one of the things we get elected to do is come here and help people, not hurt people. And it’s not our job to tell people who and what they can do in their own homes,” Welch said.
Though there is support among black legislators, there are some who disagree with the bill. State Rep. Chuck Jefferson (D-Rockford) does not see himself changing his mind. “They’ve done things already to exclude the church from doing certain things. Even though they’re trying to come up with viable solutions or options, it doesn’t change my position at this point,” Jefferson said.