It would be mild to say that this page has been critical of Chris Welch. The recently elected state representative from the 7th District, representing River Forest, Forest Park and parts of Oak Park, has been toasted, braised and broiled by Wednesday Journal and its sister paper in Forest Park for his cynical political operation of the failed Proviso Township high schools.

We stand by those editorials.

But credit where its due, and we are heartened by Welch’s near certain declaration that he stands ready to support gay marriage when it finally comes to a vote in Springfield. Welch told Journal freelance reporter Deb Kadin last week that, despite strong lobbying efforts against the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, he has come to see the measure as a civil rights issue.

Black legislators have been bombarded with anti-gay marriage calls and emails, mainly emanating from a small group of powerful and political African-American ministers on the South Side. Welch notes that communications from his actual constituents favor the marriage equality act. Black legislators representing the near west suburbs and the city’s West Side have been courageous in standing up to the prejudice being shown by Rev. James Meeks and others. So Welch joins Sen. Kimberly Lightford, Rep. LaShawn Ford and Rep. Camille Lilly on this honor roll.

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