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62nd House hopeful apologizes for gay marriage comment
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff

Rich Voltair


Sandy Cole


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Published: 9/30/2010 11:19 AM | Updated: 9/30/2010 2:10 PM

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A suburban political candidate said he regrets saying the nation's attitude toward gay marriage will change because older people eventually will die.

"It was a poor choice of words," said Rich Voltair, a Round Lake Beach Democrat running for the 62nd District seat in the state House. "I definitely realize that."

Voltair's mea culpa came Thursday during an endorsement interview at the Daily Herald's Lake County office. He is running against two-term Republican incumbent Sandy Cole of Grayslake.

Cole did not attend the session. When reached by telephone afterward, she said the comment is one of the things separating her from Voltair.

Opinions on social issues such as gay marriage or civil unions are based on life experience, Cole said, and not age.

"I think there is a greater acceptance everywhere for civil unions, but I don't see it as a generational thing," she said. "I don't see it as young versus old."

In a Sept. 3 story about the potential legalization of gay marriage, Cole said she opposed such a step and Voltair supported it.

Voltair said gay marriage is a civil rights issue and attributed resistance to a generational divide.

"As a 32-year-old, I hold views that are consistent with my age group," he said in that story, which was based on e-mail exchanges with both candidates. "These views represent the future and it is only a matter of time before the previous generation expires and our generation takes over."

On Thursday, Voltair said he "didn't mean to insult the older generation."

Voltair said he still believes the issue is generational, and that younger people are more open to equality for gay Americans than older people.

He also said he's noticed more "open bigotry among the older generation" while on the campaign trail.

"It's definitely not something that happens often, but I do find that there's a difference there, and it's troubling to me," said Voltair, an assistant professor at National-Louis University making his first bid for public office.

When asked to explain his comments, Voltair, who is Hispanic, spoke of a woman he met who asked if he was an illegal immigrant when he knocked on her door.

"People are looking for someone to blame," Voltair said. "And it's not right to blame ethnic minorities simply because they're a minority group."

The 62nd District is in central Lake County. The candidates are running for a two-year term.