Same-sex marriage becomes issue in Illinois Treasurer's race

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 10/14/2013, 10:56am

Sign-up for Chicago Sun-Times newsletters.

Illinois Treasurer candidate state Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign) is calling on his Republican challenger to support same-sex marriage.

Frerichs had accused Republican Tom Cross — the former 10-year Illinois House minority leader — of not coming clean on the issue. “Illinoisans deserve to hear his stance on a critical human rights issue,” Frerichs campaign urged.

State Rep. Tom Cross has stepped down from his post as House minority leader, but he is still poised to vote on the same-sex marriage bill — Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act — should it be called in the veto session. The matter passed the Illinois Senate but stalled in the House.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin wrote in April that Cross’ stance was ambiguous: ‘It’s easy to take issue with Illinois House GOP leader Tom Cross if you are for same sex-marriage in Illinois. And easy to be angry with him if you’re against it.

Cross told Marin then: “I’m trying to balance . . . and respect the wishes of a whole caucus . . . at the same time trying to remind everybody in our caucus that there are folks who are for this. You have to respect them,” he said by phone on Friday.

When the Sun-Times reached out to Cross’ campaign, however, a spokesman said the state Rep’s stance is clear.

He’s against it.

“Last Spring when the issue came up he told people he was opposed to the bill,” said Cross spokesman Kevin Artl. “He hasn’t changed his view. He’s not supporting it.”

By contrast, Frerichs says:

“I am proud to be one of only two Downstate Senators to co-sponsor and vote for both marriage equality and civil unions,” Frerichs said.

Yes, this is the treasurer’s race, but don’t expect one of the state’s biggest social issues not to permeate it.

Frerichs is likely betting that poll numbers showing popular support for the issue will ultimately boost him, regardless of the office for which he’s running.