By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois State Rep. Greg Harris, the first gay person to serve as House majority leader in the state, announced Monday he will not seek re-election in 2022.

Harris, a Democrat from Chicago, has served 15 years in the Illinois House, and in 2019 became the first LGBT person to serve as a legislative leader in the Illinois General Assembly, when he was named as House majority leader, the chamber’s second-ranking member.

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“When I stepped into this office 15 years ago, I was committed to making change. I wanted to improve the lives of LGBTQ folks, support our immigrant community, increase the diversity of our caucus and fight for those who for so long have been ignored. As I look back at my time in Springfield, I can confidently say that I was fortunate to do that and more. Therefore, while I will finish the rest of my term and continue leading our caucus through the annual budget process, I will not be seeking re-election,” Harris said in a statement.

Harris was the chief sponsor of the law legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois in 2013, as well as legislation allowing transgender people to correct their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity. He’s also served as House Democrats’ chief budget negotiator for several years.

He said he is announcing his decision not to seek another term in office now – more than six months before the 2022 primary elections in Illinois – to give anyone considering a bid for his seat time to prepare for a campaign.

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“There is much more to accomplish and we have a young, diverse group of leaders who are ready to take the reins and lead. It’s time to give them the opportunity to do so,” Harris said.

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch praised Harris as “a passionate advocate for what’s fair and just.”

“His command of a wide range of public policy issues, particularly Medicaid and our state budget, has been such a vital asset to the entire state. Greg led the way to deliver marriage equality, protected social service programs during the budget impasse and helped lower medical costs for everyday families. As a values-oriented leader and as the first openly gay majority leader, Greg has given a voice to so many who have continuously felt left out of state government,” Welch said in a statement. “I am grateful for Leader Harris’s support as I’ve navigated my first year as Speaker. I look forward to his continued guidance throughout the 102nd General Assembly, but I will forever be blessed to call him a friend.”

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Harris represents the 13th District in the Illinois House, which includes parts of several North Side neighborhoods in Chicago, including Uptown, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, and Andersonville.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff