It would be mild to say that this page has been critical of Chris Welch. The recently elected state representative from the 7th District, representing Forest Park, Proviso and River Forest has been toasted, braised and broiled by Forest Park Review and its sister paper in Oak Park/River Forest for his cynical political operation of the failed Proviso Township high schools.

We stand by those editorials.

But credit where it’s due, and we are heartened by Welch’s near certain declaration that he stands ready to support gay marriage when it finally comes to a vote in Springfield. Welch told freelance reporter Deb Kadin recently that, despite strong lobbying efforts against the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, he has come to see the measure as a civil rights issue.

Black legislators have been bombarded with anti-gay marriage calls and emails, mainly emanating from a small group of powerful and political African-American ministers on the South Side. Welch notes that communications from his actual constituents favor the marriage equality act. Black legislators representing the near west suburbs and the city’s West Side have been courageous in standing up to the prejudice being shown by Rev. James Meeks and others. So Welch joins Sen. Kimberly Lightford, Rep. LaShawn Ford and Rep. Camille Lilly on this honor roll.

This article has been updated to correct the municipalities served by the 7th District.

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