Quinn picks up endorsement of gay rights group

Sun. August 8, 2010 3:52 PM by Kevin Wayne

illinois gov. pat quinn address the crowd during market days

photo credit // jay shaff

If elected, Gov. Pat Quinn will sign civil unions legislation

Chicago, IL - Equality Illinois Political Action Committee, a gay rights advocacy group, endorsed Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn as the Democratic gubernatorial candidate made a stop at Northalsted Market Days on Sunday.

"This is the Land of Lincoln where you treat everyone equal without discrimination," Quinn told the crowd of nearly 200 gathered at the Addison Street festival stage in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.

Today's endorsement highlights what gay rights advocates say are significant differences between Quinn and his Republican opponent, state Sen. Bill Brady, on issues of importance to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

"I think this is one of the most important elections ever, because the choices for our community are markedly different. We have a guy who opposed fairness and equality and a guy who spent his entire career standing up for all Illinoisans," public policy director for Equality Illinois, Rick Garcia told ChicagoPride.com. "He [Quinn] wins or we better forget about any decency or fairness for the next four years."

Quinn and Brady differ significantly on social issues including gay rights and marriage equality.

Brady, a former real estate developer from downstate Bloomington, Illinois, not only opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions, but he favors an amendment to the Illinois constitution banning equal marriage rights for LGBT citizens. Brady has said he would veto any civil union legislation.

Seen as a far-right candidate, Brady has proposed the repeal of minimum wage law, sponsored legislation that would cut benefits for workers who are injured on the job and sponsored legislation that allows pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency contraception to women.

"Stop this guy, he is dangerous," state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) said from the stage. "He [Brady] will hurt this community."

Quinn, the former lieutenant governor who replaced the disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich, remains solid in his support of civil unions legislation, yet has failed to show support for full marriage equality. Quinn says he will sign civil unions legislation.

"I favor civil unions," Quinn told reporters after the short public appearance. "We have legislation in Illinois very close to passage. I believe we can pass that this year."

Last year a house bill to allow civil unions in Illinois was successfully voted out of committee, but never came up for a full vote. Equality Illinois has renewed the push and remains optimistic that the bill can get enough votes to succeed - if Quinn is elected.

As Illinois faces financial problems, Quinn continues to struggle with low approval ratings and poor poll numbers. He has recently proposed an unpopular 1 percent income tax increase.

With Sunday's endorsement and public appearance in Chicago's gay neighborhood, Quinn is hoping to drive up support from his base in the city which includes the LGBT community. This was evident as Garcia encouraged the crowd, made up primarily of the LGBT community and allies, to register and vote in November.

'Stop Bill Brady' T-shirts and stickers encouraging people to visit whoisbillbrady.com were visible throughout the two-day street festival.

The Green Party's Rich Whitney, who also is running for governor, has said he supports full marriage equality.

The Illinois general election is Nov. 2.