Chicago mayoral hopefuls Rahm Emanuel and Carol Moseley Braun support an Illinois bill that recognizes gay and lesbian couples with civil unions.

Emanuel, who resigned as White House chief of staff in September to run for the post after Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced he wouldn't seek a seventh term, has pledged to lobby on behalf of the bill.

“I talked to Greg Harris about the fact that I'll make calls on behalf of the legislation, even while I'm a candidate and not yet an office holder,” Emanuel told, referring to the measures' chief sponsor, openly gay Illinois State Representative Greg Harris.

“I think we should be guided by our hopes and not our fears,” Braun said. “This is an issue of fundamental civil rights for people.”

Harris told Chicago Public Radio that he believes the legislation, which passed out of committee last spring, has a good chance of approval this year.

“This is a process. Any piece of legislation – there's pros and cons, and you have to discuss the back and forth and debate – debate the merits. That's what the process is about,” Harris said.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has pledged to sign the bill into law if approved by lawmakers.

The New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, has begun a campaign against the proposed law.

In an email to supporters, NOM called the bill “dangerous.”

“This dangerous bill would create same-sex marriage by another name – extending to same-sex couples all the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits of marriage.”

NOM has previously backed campaigns to end gay marriage in California and Maine