CHICAGO

Alexi Giannoulias Reaches Out To Gay Community, Kirk Stands By Don't Ask, Don't Tell

May 17, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, who is running for President Obama's former seat, once again voiced his support for the gay community on Monday, telling a group of supporters that he will launch of a petition asking for the immediate repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Giannoulias held a press conference at the Center on Halsted Monday, where he introduced his campaign's LGBT steering committee and spoke out against the U.S. military's ban on gay soldiers.

ChicagoPride.com reports that Giannoulias was joined by leaders in the Illinois gay community including LGBT activist Art Johnston, Ald. Tom Tunney, Rep. Greg Harris and Rep. Deb Mell, who made headlines after announcing her engagement to her longtime partner on the House floor several weeks ago.

"Ten years from now, we will look back in amazement that we denied full and equal rights for LGBT Americans," Giannoulias said, according to ChicagoPride.com. "I look at the issue of LGBT equality as one of basic fairness. I was raised to believe that all people are equal, and that we should judge one another by our actions and ideas - not by our race, our religion or our sexual orientation."

Giannoulias also said he is joining a national campaign to petition Congress to immediately repeal DADT, and took the opportunity to slam his opponent, Republican Congressman Mark Kirk, for his stance on DADT.

"Congressman Kirk is proud to serve our country in uniform," Kirk spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski told Politico. "He supports and abides by the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy."

The event came as the Giannoulias campaign announced rosy polling numbers. An internal poll showed Giannoulias neck and neck with Republican Rep. Mark Kirk in the U.S. Senate Race.

Campaign pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research reported Monday that their poll of 600 likely November voters, which was taken May 11 to 13, shows a 44-44 tie.

The new numbers are good news for Giannoulias, who slipped in the polls following the closure if his family's bank.

"Alexi gained momentum," campaign manager Michael Rendina said during a Monday conference call. "It all comes down to the voters. When they are presented with the choice between a typical politician like Mark Kirk, who supported the failed Bush economic policies or Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, who saved Illinois jobs and will fix what's broken in Washington, Alexi emerges as the clear choice."

"We have no illusions that this will be an easy race to win," Greenburg Quinlan Rosner researcher Michael Bocian said. "But we are very confident."