Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke at the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame ceremony on Monday night, both congratulating the new inductees and also urging the state of Illinois to adopt a marriage equality bill.
"The time is now, the time is right and the time is here," Emanuel said to a cheering crowd. "There’s no doubt when you look not only around the country, but you look around here in the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, it is time to take the next step."
Less than a year ago, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a bill allowing same-sex couples to enter into a civil uinion, which gives recognitions at the state level. But advocates say that federal acknowledgement, as well as society's understanding of a permanent relationship, come through marriage.
In the past four years of President Obama's administration, Emanuel said, "a lot was accomplished but a lot more has to be done."
Though Illinois has no constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, a law was passed in 1996 defining marriage as between a man and a woman. A bill before the state legislature would overturn that previous law.
Emanuel said it was time for Illinois to get "on record for marriage equality."
He told the inductees, which included civil rights lawyer Heather Sawyer, Cook County Clerk David Orr, writer Laura Washington and transgender entertainer Honey West, that their advances had been part of improving the city of Chicago as a whole.
"Nothing is more important than making sure that gay and lesbian [people] are part of our city," Emanuel said, "because they are already our teachers, they are already doctors, they are already our mothers, our fathers, our aunts, our uncles, our police officers, our firefighters and now our veterans of our Armed Services."
Those newly inducted into the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame were:
Minister Lois Bates, a transgender advocate and youth mentor; writer and storyteller St. Sukie de la Croix; activist, actor and writer Sanford Gaylord; HIV/AIDS activist Keith Green; scientist and city LGBT advisor William Greaves; social services leader Mark Ishaug; businessman and philanthropist Bill Pry; businessman and activist Chuck Rodocker; Sawyer; West, the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus, an advocate volunteer organization; the Chi-Town Squares, a square-dancing club; running organization Proud to Run; Orr and Washington.
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