Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he hopes Illinois would follow New York's lead and legalize gay marriage.

On the first day civil unions took effect in Illinois, Emanuel, who left his White House chief of staff post to run for mayor of Chicago, officiated over the civil union of one of his top staffers, David Spielfogel, chief of policy and strategic planning, before celebrating the unions of 30 gay and lesbian couples at a public event held in Millennium Park.

In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer that aired Wednesday, Emanuel said he believes gay marriage is a “significant issue.”

“It is a significant issue,” Emanuel told Blitzer. “I would hope that the state would move in that direction. Tremendous progress has been made across the country on a value statement and I think that's very important.”

The 51-year-old first-term mayor ducked a question on whether he believes it's significant or not that President Barack Obama has so far refused to endorse the institution. On Wednesday, Obama dodged the question a second time in as many weeks.