State Rep. Harris talks LGBT politics after Republican wave

Chief sponsor of Illinois gay marriage law visits COD for Pride Alliance speaker series


Lucas Koprowski

State Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, discusses the midterm elections and LGBT politics with students during a visit on Nov. 7, 2014 at College of DuPage. Harris was the chief sponsor of Illinois’ gay marriage law.

Joash Mencias, Editor-in-Chief

State Rep. Greg Harris said he remains unsure about Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner and expressed disappointment over the recent Republican wave across the nation during a visit to College of DuPage on Nov. 7.

Harris remained reluctant over Rauner’s political positions, including the newly-elected executive’s stances on LGBT rights.

“We’ve yet to see where he stands on the issues,” Harris told The Courier.

“We’ll see if he’s collaborative or confrontational,” Harris added. “We just don’t know yet.”

Harris, the primary sponsor of Illinois’ gay marriage law, reflected on what recent national GOP gains meant for the LGBT movement when he spoke to members and guests of Pride Alliance, the college’s LGBT student club.

“We saw something that was not so good,” the Chicago Democrat told the group, regarding the midterm elections.

On the national level, Harris said with the GOP’s full control of Congress, a good number of LGBT-friendly candidates lost. He attributed the Republican wave to  low turnout among progressive voters like young people.

However, Harris pointed out local voters re-elected many Democratic supporters of gay marriage.

“This is a testament to the voters in Illinois,” Harris emphasized the Democrats’ continued control of the state legislature.

Harris touted marriage equality in Illinois, saying the state’s law “could be a model for the country,” citing the law’s expansion of gay rights while allowing for some exemptions for religious institutions.

Harris also touched on the expansion of gay rights and wider societal acceptance, calling it “one of the most rapid and remarkable changes in U.S. history.”

Audience members had the opportunity to ask Harris questions, including ones on his life as an openly gay politician.

While Harris said his sexual orientation does not usually present an issue in his profession, he receives hate mail and even death threats.

“I usually don’t write them back,” Harris quipped.