Chicago mayor Richard Daley said he didn't read a pro-gay marriage petition before signing it at a gay event on Wednesday evening and now says he doesn't fully back what the petition calls for. The petition, presented to Daley by the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network as he made his way through the crowd during the annual Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame celebration at the Cultural Center, demanded that Cook County clerk David Orr defy state law and "immediately issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples." Daley says he signed the petition without reading the fine print. The Chicago Anti-Bashing Network then faxed press releases to media outlets touting the mayor's apparent position, which would have been broader than previously stated.
"I walked out and said, 'I'll sign anything.' I just put my name down.... They asked me to sign it. I'm for gay marriage, so I have no problem with that.... You know what my position has been on it," Daley told the Chicago Sun Times. Asked if he wants Orr to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Daley said, "That's up to him. I don't know if he can do it legally. That would [have to be done] statewide."
Andy Thayer, a spokesman for the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network, ridiculed the mayor for claiming he hadn't read the petition before signing his name. "He's an attorney and he doesn't read what he signs? That's amusing. Sail on, oh, ship of state. It's like a three- or four-sentence petition. I would hope that, in this day and age, politicians read what they sign," Thayer told the Sun-Times. Thayer said Daley was well aware that the language of the petition went far beyond Daley's public position on the issue of gay marriage. That's why he sent out the release.