McKeon, first openly gay person elected to the Legislature in Illinois, announced resignation due to health reasons
CHICAGO Democratic committeeman have selected an openly gay aide to a Chicago alderman to replace the first openly gay member of the General Assembly on the November ballot.
State Rep. Larry McKeon is retiring when his term ends in January. Greg Harris, a longtime aide to North Side Alderman Mary Ann Smith, will replace him on the ballot, party officials announced Wednesday.
McKeon said he was pleased with the selection, even though he had recommended someone else for the 13th District seat.
“Greg has a long history of advocating for health and human rights issues, economic development and consumer issues,” McKeon, who is HIV positive, said in a statement posted on his Web site.
Harris, who also is HIV positive, was selected by the Democratic committeemen of McKeon’s district and will run unopposed.
McKeon announced his retirement after five terms on July 31. He had recommended Jim Snyder, an attorney with the Illinois Commission on Human Rights, for the ballot vacancy.
Before being elected to the state House in 1996, McKeon worked as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s liaison to gays and lesbians. He also has been a police officer and teacher.
During his time in office, McKeon advocated in Springfield for legislation barring discrimination against gay people.
In January, a state law prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination went into effect.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, September 8, 2006.