Congratulations State Rep. Greg Harris, First Openly Gay Majority Leader

Greg Harris, State Rep., House Majority Leader, Illinois
State Rep. Greg Harris on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives. (Photo: Greg Harris on Facebooki)

Springfield, IL-(ENEWSPF)- We at eNews Park Forest extend our most sincere congratulations to State Rep. Greg Harris, the first openly-gay Majority Leader of the Illinois House, appointed by Speaker Michael Madigan January 10, 2019. This is no small accomplishment for Rep. Greg Harris, and no small distinction for the state of Illlinois.

Speaker Madigan made it official Thursday, “At my request, Representative Greg Harris will serve as House majority leader. This is the first in a series of leadership appointments that will be announced in the coming days reflecting the diversity of our state, and reflecting our caucus’ approach to the coming legislative session. 

“Throughout his tenure, Representative Harris has shown a dedication to meeting our state’s biggest challenges head on. Throughout his career, he has worked to advance progressive ideals, while also building bipartisan consensus. He led a historic effort to make Illinois one of the first states to pass legislation ensuring equal rights for same-sex couples; he has spearheaded complicated Medicaid reforms with an eye toward compassion and expanded access to health care; and his leadership was most critical during the budget crisis, when Representative Harris was instrumental in bringing together Democrats and Republicans to enact a bipartisan budget that protects lifesaving services like breast cancer screenings, child care, health care for the elderly and much more.

“In 1997, I asked Barbara Flynn Currie to serve as the state’s first female majority leader. Following in her historic tenure, today’s appointment again represents House Democrats’ commitment to building an inclusive, welcoming Legislature where all are represented. As the first openly gay majority leader, Representative Harris will also continue to reflect our caucus’ commitment to working across the aisle and making the tough decisions.” 

As an aside, Rep. Harris has made no secret of his sexual orientation throughout his tenure in the Illinois General Assembly. I recall years ago attending a workshop to benefit LGBTQ+ students at the Center on Halsted. Rep. Harris spoke. When he found out I was from Park Forest, he quipped that my State Rep. was perhaps not as observant as he could be. At the time, Rep. Harris was “seatmates” with then-Rep. George Scully, who later became a judge and is now retired from the bench.

In spite of sitting next to each other for perhaps years at the time, Rep. Harris laughed that Rep. Scully said to him at one point, “Are you gay?” Rep. Harris answered something to the effect, “No, I just sponsor every piece of gay legislation that comes before the Illinois House.” He found it incredulous that Rep. Scully hadn’t figured that out yet.

Rep. Harris has served with distinction during his tenure in the Illinois State Capitol and consistently exhibits excellent judgment both in the House Chamber and outside. We wish him continued success. His success is the success of the state of Illinois.