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Rev. Meeks Makes LGBT Outreach

Rev. Meeks Makes LGBT Outreach


Chicago mayoral hopeful James Meeks, who has angered gays with past antigay remarks and legislative votes, made an effort at outreach by meeting Tuesday with five local LGBT activists, Gay Chicago Magazinereports.

Meeks, an Illinois state senator and pastor of a Baptist megachurch, has called homosexuality an "evil sickness" and opposed the state law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Yet Meeks, a Democrat, was also a supporter of Barack Obama's campaigns for the U.S. Senate and the presidency, and has been described in the media as a spiritual counsel to Obama.

Rick Garcia, public policy director of the gay rights group Equality Illinois, organized the meeting at his group's office, after having previously met privately with Meeks, who is considering a run for mayor but has yet to formally declare his candidacy.

Meeks assured the activists that if he becomes mayor, he would have a liaison to LGBT Chicagoans, as outgoing mayor Richard M. Daley has had, and would maintain city support for the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, the only municipally funded institution of its kind.

Meeks said the meeting involved "healthy dialogue and exchange" and gave him a clearer understanding of the needs of the city's gay population.

Garcia told the Chicago Tribune there is still skepticism about Meeks among gays, "but we also have respect for someone who might become mayor, and he has respect for us as a politically active community."

Kim Hunt, executive director of the black lesbian group Affinity, told the Tribune that Meeks "has to come to understand that people don't see a difference between him as a pastor and a politician. Whatever he says in his church, people assume that's the way he is going to govern."

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