CHICAGO -- Mayor Richard M. Daley has said he would have "no problem" with Cook County issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in Chicago, the nation's third-largest city.
Entering a national debate about gay marriage, Daley urged sympathy for same-sex couples, because "they love each other just as much as anyone else."
Daley dismissed a suggestion Wednesday that marriage between gay couples would undermine the institution.
"Marriage has been undermined by divorce, so don't tell me about marriage," he said. "Don't blame the gay and lesbian, transgender, and transsexual community."
Daley said only the county clerk's office can issue marriage licenses. He stopped short of saying he would follow San Francisco's mayor by approving marriage licenses for same-sex couples.
County Clerk David Orr said he was "game to looking at options," but only if a consensus could be built among Daley, city and county government, and advocacy groups. "I'm fed up with people being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation," Orr said. "[But] whatever you do when it comes to challenging laws, you want it to be effective and not knee-jerk."
Last fall the county board authorized Orr to issue certificates of domestic partnership that carry no legal rights.
Rick Garcia, political director for the gay rights group Equality Illinois, welcomed Daley's comments, saying they represent "another step in the right direction."
At least 38 states, including Illinois, and the federal government have approved laws or amendments barring the recognition of gay marriage.