2 attorney general hopefuls differ on abortion, same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage has become a contentious issue in the race for Illinois attorney general as Republican Erika Harold and Democrat Kwame Raoul accuse one another of having held discriminatory views.
The issue arose before the March primary when NBC 5 Chicago, citing three unnamed sources, reported that in 2000 Harold answered a Miss Illinois Pageant question by indicating that if she had to place a child in one of two foster care arrangements, she would select a heterosexual couple who were known child abusers over a loving same-sex couple.
Raoul focused on the statement in campaign ads that painted Harold, a former Miss America, as too extreme for Illinois.
Harold says that is not her view today and she doesn't remember answering the pageant question. She said she supports same-sex adoption and foster parenting.
"I don't recall that specific exchange," Harold said during a meeting with the Daily Herald editorial board. "If that was my answer, of course it's wrong. ... There should be no discrimination with respect to sexual orientation when people wish to adopt or become foster parents."
"I think it's important to focus on the fact that is not a current belief and there's no evidence to support that," said Harold, a member of the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Equality. "I've always been a proponent in making sure people are treated fairly and equally under the law."
Harold says her position on LGBTQ rights has evolved and that Raoul's criticism is "particularly hypocritical" since he said he discriminated against people on the basis of sexual orientation when he was younger.
Raoul, in a Daily Herald editorial board meeting, acknowledged he did so "as a boy." He also says his views have evolved.
Harold, in a 2014 Illinois Family Institute voter guide when she was running for Congress, indicated she supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. But a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, and Harold said she intends to uphold the law if elected.
"Erika does not oppose same sex marriage," said Aaron DeGroot, Harold's communications director via email. "No serious legal analyst believes same sex marriage is anything other than settled law."
Raoul says a shift in the U.S. Supreme Court could change that; Harold's campaign has said he's fearmongering.
Views on abortion also divide the candidates.
"It's no secret that I'm pro-life ... (but) the job of the attorney general is to uphold and enforce Illinois law," Harold said, adding the job of the attorney general "is not about whether you agree with a particular law or not. It's about embracing the role you have within our system of governance to defend Illinois law and its constitutionality if challenged."
Raoul says the attorney general has responsibilities beyond enforcing the law that include playing "an advocacy role" weighing in on potential policy changes.
Attempts to reach Libertarian candidate Bubba Harsy were unsuccessful. His campaign website does not address same-sex marriage or abortion.