Ald. Mitts flip-flops on gay rights, apologizes for comments

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Ald. Emma Mitts apologized Wednesday for an anti-gay comment she made that was caught on video at a West Side candidates forum last weekend.

In a video taken at the March 21 event, Ald. Mitts is heard saying, “I don’t want to be biased here, but I don’t support the fact that we can have two women married, two men married and we pay our fees and your tax dollars go. And they can get the same benefit as the woman or a man get. And I don’t think that that playing field is level.”

The 15-year alderman, facing CPS teacher Tara Stamps in the April 7th runoff, chalked up her comments to being raised in rural Arkansas.

“People didn’t talk about it,” she told the Sun-Times Wednesday. “Now, it’s more open and publicized. Their rights have been elevated. There are things you don’t believe in, and you can be wrong about your beliefs.”

The alderman’s stance on the issue appeared to have changed from Tuesday night when she and Stamps were asked at an AustinTalks/Austin Weekly News debate what their views were on gay rights.

Mitts told the approximately 150-member audience gathered at La Follette Park that she has never supported gay rights in her professional and personal life, but as a lawmaker, if “the law supports gay rights, so will I.”

Mitts declined to discuss Tuesday night’s comments with AustinTalks, but her office issued the following statement via email:

“I support gay rights. As a member of the City Council, I have supported a number of pro-equality pieces of legislation.  I believe that my colleagues in the City Council know they can count on me to advance LGBT equality. When I do not understand an issue or when I have questions, I talk with my colleagues to better educate myself.”

Stamps is pushing Chicago Forward – a political action committee backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel – to pull the roughly $44,000 it has given to Mitts’ campaign, according to the Sun-Times.

At Tuesday night’s debate, Stamps said she supports gay rights and has family members who live “an alternative lifestyle.”

She issued a statement Wednesday saying the 37th Ward deserves someone who will serve the whole community, “not just the ones she personally feels comfortable with.”

Mitts is facing her first runoff since then-Mayor Daley appointed her alderman in 2000.



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