The 33 year old Illinois State Treasurer, who in July announced his bid for the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama, has been a longtime supporter of gay rights and Chicago‘s LGBT community.
In an interview with Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown, Giannoulias says that if elected, he would work to repeal the federal law that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.
Giannoulias, a Democrat, says he also backs a slate of other crucial civil rights reforms, including the U.S. military‘s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
“This goes to what this country was founded on, equality and fairness,” Giannoulias told the Sun-Times.
Giannoulias position on same-sex marriage stands in direct contrast to Republican candidate Mark Kirk. Brown reported that a spokesperson said that “Congressman Kirk opposes gay marriage, supports the Defense of Marriage Act, and agrees with President Clinton’s policy of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.'”
“This is what I believe in, and I’m sure not everyone is going to agree with me,” Giannoulias told Brown. “It could be risky, but it’s what I believe.”
Giannoulias is the first major statewide candidate in Illinois history to publicly announce a pro-gay marriage position.