Both 60th House candidates say they’d oppose gay marriage

The legalization of gay marriage is an issue that often divides Democratic and Republican candidates — but not those in the 60th state House race.

Incumbent Democrat Rita Mayfield and Republican challenger Jackie Burleson both say they oppose expanding marriage rights to gay or lesbian couples.

Mayfield and Burleson spoke about gay marriage and other issues Wednesday during an endorsement interview at the Daily Herald’s Libertyville office.

The 60th District includes Waukegan and parts of North Chicago, Beach Park and Gurnee. Mayfield and Burleson are running for a two-year term.

Burleson, a construction worker from Waukegan Township, believes marriage is for procreation and should be between a man and a woman.

“I have a very big problem with the use of the word ‘marriage.’” he said. “I’ve been married 40 years. That word actually means something.”

Burleson acknowledged gay couples can adopt children, but he stressed they cannot have biological children with each other.

He complained about how the family has “dissolved” in our society and said “the gay marriage issue fits right into that.”

Burleson doesn’t feel as strongly about civil unions for gay couples or expanded legal rights for gay couples.

“I don’t have the right to tell people who they should love or how they should love,” he said. “But I do believe that the word marriage should not be incorporated in there.”

Mayfield, a Waukegan resident who is finishing her first full term in the House, said survey data indicates her constituents don’t support legalizing gay marriage.

As a result, she won’t vote for it. She didn’t vote for civil unions in 2010, either, choosing to vote “present” on that proposal.

Personally, Mayfield said she has “mixed emotions” about gay marriage.

She said the members and leaders of her church — the New Way of Life Church of God in Christ in Waukegan — disapprove of “that lifestyle.”

“We do not allow those types of behaviors in our church at all,” said Mayfield, who was appointed to the House following the death of Rep. Eddie Washington in 2010 and elected later that year. “Not that you can’t come there, but if you do you’re not going to be blatant. What you do at home needs to stay at home.”

When asked to explain what types of behaviors she meant, Mayfield said: “Two men kissing, two women kissing.”

With civil unions now legal in Illinois, Mayfield said she doesn’t understand why same-sex couples would want to get married.

“I’m still not clear on why they feel the need for marriage when you’ve got civil unions,” she said.

“One of the answers I was told is that civil unions didn’t give them enough. How much more do you want?”

Mayfield also is concerned charitable groups that oppose gay marriage could be hurt by such legislation. She cited the steps taken by the state against Catholic Charities following the legalization of civil unions as an example. Catholic Charities dropped its foster care and adoption programs as a result.

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