Illinois elects Sam Yingling as fourth gay state legislator

Photo: Sam Yingling.

An openly-gay, Democratic challenger in Illinois’ 62nd House District defeated the district’s Republican incumbent Tuesday, winning with a margin of almost nine percent and becoming the fourth gay legislator in the General Assembly.

He is the only out gay Illinois legislator ever elected in a district outside of Chicago.

Sam Yingling, supervisor of Northeastern Illinois Avon Township took in over 54 percent of the vote, a significant win over Republican incumbent, Rep. Sandy Cole (R-Grayslake). The 62nd District is composed of the Round Lake communities, including Hainesville, Wauconda, Grayslake and a swath of unincorporated Lake County.

Yingling, 32, will join Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) and Rep. Deb Mell (D-Chicago) in the caucus of openly-gay and lesbian state legislators — Harris and Cassidy ran unopposed. With 77 percent of precincts in the 40th District reporting, Mell holds a landslide of a margin over opponent Toni Puccio-Johnson with 80.9 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press.

“It’s a great victory and a top-notch campaign,” said Jacob Meister, an advisor to the Yingling campaign and former candidate for U.S. Senate from Illinois. “It’s a victory for the LGBT community because Sandy Cole refused to support civil unions and we’ve now taken a ‘no’ vote on marriage and turned it into a ‘yes’ vote.”

The Civil Rights Agenda, a Chicago-based LGBT rights and policy advocacy group immediately responded to reports of Yingling’s victory.

“We would like to extend our congratulations to Mr. Yingling on his extraordinary win tonight,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director for The Civil Rights Agenda. “Mr. Yingling is a remarkable elected official and I have been impressed with his acumen… Many people throughout the state believe that LGBT individuals live only on the North side of Chicago, but LGBT individuals live and work in every community throughout Illinois. This shows that constituents in Illinois are no longer concerned with the sexual orientation of their representative, but the capability of the individual…”

This is a breaking story. More to come.