Why Meeks' Civil Union Vote Threatens His Mayoral Campaign

You’ve seen those cartoons where a character pushes the wrong button and blows up an entire city? Well, state Sen. James Meeks  just pushed the wrong button and may have blown up his mayoral campaign.

Meeks announced today voted against the civil unions bill that passed the Illinois Senate and House. According to Capitol Fax, “Meeks said if he voted for the bill he’d be deemed a flip-flopper who was pandering for votes ahead of the mayoral election and he planned to stick to his principles.”

Yeah, I guess after your church runs a haunted house that depicts a homosexual couple burning in hell, you’ll look like a hypocrite if you vote for civil unions.

Meeks is an very successful preacher. He built a 20,000-member congregation by taking strong and principled stands on moral issues -- including homosexuality. But the same qualities that helped him build a megachurch are going to make it impossible for him to build a mega-coalition. You’ve got to admire a guy who places what he believes are eternal moral principles above his ambition to hold a temporal office for four years. But you don’t have to vote for him.

When Harold Washington ran for mayor, he courted the gay community because it was an essential constituency in his coalition of blacks and lakefront liberals. Today, the gay community is even more important than that. Gay rights resonate far beyond Boystown. Civil unions are the number one civil rights issue of our time. Any politician who wants to appeal to progressive voters has to support them. Even if Meeks made it to the run-off by sweeping the black vote, he’d be swamped in the finals by Rahm Emanuel, Gery Chico or Miguel del Valle, who favor civil unions.

If Meeks doesn’t want to respect gay rights, he should drop out of the race and give Danny Davis or Carol Moseley-Braun a chance of winning. Last week, Ward Room gave Meeks 7-1 odds of becoming mayor. We now give him the same chance of winning as he gives a gay couple of getting into heaven.

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