CHICAGO -- A headline-grabbing remark on gay marriage could spell trouble for U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.)'s re-election effort in the southwest suburban 11th congressional district's tight -- and tightening -- race.
Following a Wednesday debate against her Democratic challenger and former House member Bill Foster, Biggert told reporters, when pressed about a vague answer she previously offered on same-sex marriage, that "the country is close to this" but that the matter was ultimately a state, not federal issue.
"You know, we don't have polygamy and bigamy and all of these things in, in the federal government. It's the states that take care of that," the Hinsdale, Ill. congresswoman commented, in remarks picked up by TalkingPointsMemo and DailyKos Friday.
Biggert went on to say that she supports civil unions and is "close to reaching for gay marriages," the Windy City Times reports.
Foster commented that although he opposed marriage equality for same-sex couples as recently as two years ago, he now supports it and is "not ambiguous" about that position, according to the Chicago Tribune.
As for his opponent?
"She has not yet evolved. So, she's crawling out of the swamp or something," Foster said of Biggert's gay marriage stance. "I'm all dry, fluffed off and happy to be a hominid."
Biggert's campaign attempted to clarify the gay marriage remark and said the congressman still "grapples" with the issue in a statement issued Friday:
"The reference to polygamy and bigamy were in that context and she certainly did not mean to make a comparison between that and loving same-sex couples. She remains committed to the LGBT community and opposes efforts to write discrimination into the Constitution to take rights away from people.”
Biggert's opposition to marriage equality is not a new development. In her Chicago Sun-Times candidate questionnaire, she wrote that she believes "marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman" but that she would continue to oppose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Nevertheless, Biggert has enjoyed the support of some LGBT advocacy groups including a massive, $500,000 donation from the Paul Singer-funded pro-gay Republican American Unity PAC. The Human Rights Campaign has also supported Biggert as the only Republican among its list of Illinois endorsements.
"Like many Americans she is on a journey on marriage equality and we will continue to work with her to move her toward a supportive position," HRC spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz told TalkingPointsMemo.