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Illinois Congressional candidates talk marriage equality
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

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Congressional candidates Judy Biggert and Bill Foster—battling to represent Illinois' 11th District—recently sparred over a number of issues during a WTTW political debate, and hot among them was the question of same-sex marriage.

Biggert, a Republican, and Foster, a Democrat, disagreed on the program Chicago Tonight over whether same-sex couples should be able to marry; however, both identified themselves as supporters of LGBT rights.

Foster said he supports marriage equality. Biggert said she is close.

"I think that this is a matter for the state," said Biggert. "And I think that with the court case that's coming up right now that there will be some movement on that. I support civil unions. I'm close to reaching for gay marriages."

Asked to clarify or elaborate, Biggert said that, as an attorney, she had concerns about what marriage equality would mean in terms of estate planning and other legal issues.

Foster said his views on LGBT support are clear.

"I support marriage equality," he said. "It's not ambiguous. Congresswoman Biggert's stance in the past has not been ambiguous."

At a post-debate press conference, reporters pressed Foster on his changing views on same-sex marriage, noting that he had previously opposed it. Foster said that he had supported civil unions during his last campaign and that his priorities had been on the financial collapse.

Reporters also dogged Biggert on her stance, to which she replied, "It is a state issue. You know, we don't have polygamy and bigamy in the federal government. It's the states that take care of that."

The Judy Biggert for Congress campaign later issued a statement regarding marriage equality. "As like many Americans, the Congresswoman grapples with the idea of marriage for same-sex couples," the press release states. "The point she was making in the debate is that states—not the federal government—give out marriage licenses and make the determination about parameters for marriage, like they do for example in terms of age.

"The reference to polygamy and bigamy were in that context and she certainly did not mean to make a comparison between that and loving same-sex couples. She remains committed to the LGBT community and opposes efforts to write discrimination into the Constitution to take rights away from people."

Biggert has enjoyed some support from gay-rights activists, including a $500,000 donation from American Unity PAC, pro-gay Republican super PAC, according to Crain's Chicago Business. She also called for support of the LGBT-inclusive reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

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