Why You Should Know And Love Mark Kirk, The First Republican Senator To Co-Sponsor The Equality Act

In 2010, I had the pleasure of voting for Mark Kirk to fill in Barack Obama’s Illinois Senate seat. “Pleasure” despite the fact that Kirk is a Republican and I am (shocker) not conservative at all – Kirk was running against State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who overall seemed like he didn’t know what he was doing or care much about the people who would be his constituents, while Kirk had spent his Congressional career voting by a balance of his own insight and the wishes of his district, electing not to toe the Republican Party line on issues like gun control and the environment.

He’s continued that work as a senator. Today, he became the first Republican senator to sponsor the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing act to specifically ban discrimination against the LGBT community. (Illinois Congressman Bob Dold was the first Republican congressman to sign on to the bill, just a few days ago.) After voting to uphold Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as a congressman, Kirk voted to repeal it as a Senator in 2010. In 2013, he voted to reauthorize a full version of the Violence Against Women Act instead of the Republican-drafted version that would repeal some of the original bill’s protections. He cosponsors and has supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for years. He supports strong regulation of waste-dumping in the Great Lakes.

Do you not love Mark Kirk yet? I don’t agree with every single thing he does or believes (he voted no on the DREAM act and on raising the minimum wage, as just two examples), but he’s one of the few moderate politicians left who ever makes the news. He’s a tiny little ray of hope in the polarized darkness of American politics. He makes me proud to be an Illinoisan. Cheers, Mark Kirk!

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