As the only openly gay state lawmaker ever elected in Illinois from outside Chicago, state Rep. Sam Yingling has seen his role in the push for same-sex marriage change during his freshman term in office.
At first, the Round Lake Beach Democrat was deferential to the veteran lawmakers who were leading the push for approval. And he still is, but his role in helping with that effort has become more defined over the past year.
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Lawmakers might -- or might not -- vote on the issue next week, and Yingling has tried to persuade suburban and downstate lawmakers to vote "yes" despite the political worries some of them might have about doing so.
He's in a good position to make that case. After all, their home turfs are a lot more politically similar to his central Lake County district than to the Chicago districts represented by state Rep. Greg Harris and other leaders in the same-sex marriage effort.
"I feel like I have more in common with legislators outside of the city of Chicago," he said.
The House also is home to a large freshman class -- of which Yingling is a member. Classes of lawmakers can bond, perhaps making attempts at persuasion easier.
Plus, Yingling says he uses his very election to the Illinois General Assembly to try to convince other lawmakers voters aren't particularly hung up on the issue. He says he wants to be viewed as a lawmaker who just happens to be gay.
"That sent a very strong message to districts outside the city of Chicago." he said. "Nobody cares about my sexual orientation."
Wait and see
The Illinois House is a national battleground over the issue because the Senate has already approved same-sex marriage and Gov. Pat Quinn has said he'll sign it if it gets to him.
Both sides have pressured House members immensely, and evidence of that is one district to the south of Yingling's. That district is occupied by Republican state Rep. Ed Sullivan of Mundelein, who supports same-sex marriage and has been targeted by conservative leaders for a 2014 primary challenge.
Opponents have deep religious concerns and staged a rally in Springfield last week similar in size to one held by supporters the day before.
The continuing serious disagreement over same-sex marriage means there's no guarantee lawmakers will vote next week, but signs might be pointing more toward a vote.
Is Bert Miller, president of Naperville's Phoenix Closures, considering getting into a primary race for Congress?
A website BertMillerForCongress.com is under construction, and state Rep. Darlene Senger, another Republican in the primary race for the 11th District, says Miller told her he'll announce his candidacy soon.
The primary is a race to take on U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat, and includes Senger, Grundy County Board member Chris Balkema and Aurora private investigator Ian Bayne.
Miller declined to comment.
To the president's desk
Legislation from U.S. Sens. Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin that will try to encourage states to require schools to have epinephrine on hand to fight food allergies was approved by the Senate Thursday and now goes to President Barack Obama's desk.
Illinois now allows schools to have the epinephrine injectors on hand but doesn't require it.
"The Senate's passage of our bill today means that we are a step closer to easing the minds of parents who send their kids with allergies to school and encouraging safe administration of epinephrine," Kirk said in a statement.
The trick is costly treats
Kirk sent Halloween cards to other members of the Senate Thursday to highlight a battle he's been fighting for a while.
The Highland Park Republican wants to reform the way the U.S. controls the price of sugar, which can lead to higher prices for American candy manufacturers.
The ties between this issue and Halloween are obvious, but the card features a terrified-looking woman, some bullet points and the text: "The Frightening Cost of the Sugar Program!"
Lake County election remission?
Legislation that would undo the law creating a Lake County Election Commission is scheduled for a hearing in Springfield next week.
Sweeping election legislation approved earlier this year included a couple of paragraphs taking election oversight away from the Lake County clerk's office and creating the new government arm, which was widely decried by county officials.
Legislation reversing the move is being sponsored by Republican state Rep. David McSweeney of Barrington Hills, and he's working with Democratic state Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood on the effort.