The Human Right Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest gay rights advocate, has pulled its endorsement of
Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk after he voted against repeal of “Don't
Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 law that forbids gay troops from
revealing their sexuality.
Instead, the group threw its support
behind Illinois Treasurer Alexi
Giannoulias, Kirk's Democratic challenger for the Illinois Senate
seat being vacated by Democrat Roland Burris.
Kirk, considered a moderate gay ally
for his backing of a federal hate crimes law that includes sexual
orientation and gender identity and the Employment Non-Discrimination
Act (ENDA), a bill that would outlaw workplace LGBT discrimination,
won the group's backing over an openly gay Democratic candidate in
On Thursday, the Naval Reserve officer
voted against attaching to the defense budget an amendment that would
repeal the gay ban.
“While many lawmakers stood on the
right side of history in voting to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' Rep.
Kirk voted to maintain discrimination that hurts our national
security,” Joe Solmonese, president of HRC, said in announcing the
The following day, Kirk voted in favor
of the $700 billion defense bill, which included the repeal
amendment, one of the few House Republicans to do so.
“Alexi Giannoulias is the progressive
leader Illinois needs,” Solmonese said.
“As the next senator from the great
state of Illinois, I will lead the fight for equality – for
marriage equality, for an end to DOMA, for employment
non-discrimination, and for immigration reform that treats same-sex
couples fairly,” Giannoulias said.
The endorsement could prove critical as
candidates attempt to pull ahead in the neck-in-neck race.
was accused of being gay and in the pocket of gay rights groups by
Andy Martin, his GOP primary opponent, in January. Allegations
Kirk has denied.