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LGBT Activists Express Concern Over Meeks Mayoral Run

By Joseph Erbentraut in News on Sep 15, 2010 4:00PM

While the list of potential successors to Mayor Daley continues to grow daily, one name on that list - State Sen. James Meeks - has already put the city's LGBT community on alert. On the heels of the Daley administration's unprecedented support for LGBT Chicagoans, activists say a Meeks win - particularly if accompanied by a Bill Brady win in the gubernatorial race - could unravel the many gains the community has made in recent years. Meeks has actively campaigned to defeat SB3186, Illinois' LGBT non-discrimination bill, and was named one of the "10 leading black religious voices in the anti-gay movement" by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2007.

As reported by, Meeks has further described homosexuality as "an evil sickness." As a key member of a "Gatekeepers" network, an interracial group of ministers working to blur the line between church and state, Meeks has worked closely with anti-LGBT groups including the Illinois Family Institute and Americans for Truth. In 2006, the Salem Baptist Church, where Meeks is head pastor, sponsored a Christian "fright house" hosted by Satan with glitter-covered homosexuals, abortion providers and even a meditating Buddhist providing the "frights."

"Of the many, many names circulated to run for mayor Senator James Meeks is the most troubling, Equality Illinois public policy director Rick Garcia told "Meeks has been an ardent foe of equality and fairness for LGBT people."

In an interview with Fox Chicago News last week, Meeks said those concerned with his views on LGBT issues and abortion rights should have nothing to worry about, at least during his first hypothetical term as Chicago mayor. But all bets appear to be off if he gets bored enough: "Now, if I were sitting around bored with nothing to do, that stuff might come up," Meeks told Fox. "But I expect to be so busy with schools, crime and budget problems during my first term that I wouldn't have any time."

In an interview with Progress Illinois, openly gay State Rep. Greg Harris responded to Meeks' remarks, calling them "unacceptable," calling into question his ability to lead the city. "I don't think because of his views he can represent the entirety of Chicago," he said. "This is the only guy of all the candidates that is backwards leaning."

As of a recent Sun-Times poll, Meeks, who has yet to formally announce his candidacy, placed second among the current crop of potential mayoral candidates.