Chicago, IL —
Chicago mayoral candidate and gay rights opponent James Meeks is now struggling to clarify remarks he made about women, Asians and Hispanics "not being discriminated against."
FOX Chicago News reported on Wednesday that during an appearance on WVON Radio, Meeks said that the City's minority contract set-asides should only go to African-Americans.
"I think that the word ‘minority,' from our standpoint, should mean African-American," Meeks said, as quoted on myFOXchicago.com. "I don't think women, Asians and Hispanics should be able to use that title. That's why our numbers cannot improve, because we use women, Asians and Hispanics, who are not people of color, who are not people who have been discriminated against. We fought for these laws based on discrimination. Now, groups that have not been discriminated against are the chief beneficiaries."
Later on, apparently sensing that he had stepped in it, Meeks attempted to clarify his remarks. He told FOX Chicago News that he was fine with Asians and Hispanics being called "minorities," but not white women.
The 54-year-old, who is pastor of Chicago's 22,000 member strong Salem Baptist Church, is also an opponent of equality for gays and lesbians.
In 2007, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) named Meeks one of the "10 leading black religious voices in the anti-gay movement." The Illinois Family Institute, an anti-gay group, lauded Meeks in 2006 for leading African Americans in ‘clearly understanding the threat of gay marriage.' Meeks was criticized for calling homosexuality "an evil sickness."
Meeks also actively campaigned to defeat SB3186, an Illinois LGBT non-discrimination bill, while serving in the Illinois state legislature. He was the only African American in the Illinois Senate and House to vote against the bill.
On Sept. 11, Meeks told FOX Chicago News that if he's elected mayor, he would be too busy to deprive gay people of their civil rights.
"Now, if I were sitting around bored with nothing to do, that stuff might come up," Meeks said at the time. "But I expect to be so busy with schools, crime and budget problems during my first term that I wouldn't have any time."