Illinois AG candidate under fire for remarks about gay adoption during Miss Illinois pageant

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Erika Harold is coming under fire for how a judge says she answered a question on gay adoption years ago during a beauty pageant. (WLS)

Republican candidate for Illinois Attorney General Erika Harold is coming under fire for how a judge says she answered a question on gay adoption years ago during a beauty pageant. Now her opponent in the primary is calling for her to withdraw.

Harold is Governor Bruce Rauner's handpicked choice for the Republican nomination for attorney general. At issue is her opposition to gay foster parenting 18 years ago - a view she now says has changed.

Harold is the 38-year-old downstate lawyer who won the Miss America pageant in 2003. But it was during the 2000 Miss Illinois pageant where she was asked if given the choice between placing a foster child in a stable, same-sex home or a heterosexual home with a known history of child abuse, which would she choose.

Harold said, based on her beliefs she would choose the abusive home, according to a pageant official in a position to know who spoke to ABC 7 on the condition of anonymity.

"You never choose to put a child in harm's way to be subject to physical abuse," said Gary Grasso, a Republican candidate for Illinois Attorney General.

Grasso, who's battling Harold for the Republican nomination, called her out.

"I am asking that Erika Harold withdraw as a candidate for attorney general based on the answers given then and the attempts to cover up the answers," Grasso said.

Harold's campaign issued a statement Friday saying she did not remember the exchange, but added: "Erika, like many others, has changed her position on the issue over the last twenty years. She acknowledges that position was wrong and now strongly supports same sex adoption and foster placement."

But Harold now finds herself also under fire from Democrats.

"Absolutely it's alright for somebody to evolve in their views, that's what maturing is about," said Kwame Raoul, a Democratic candidate for Illinois Attorney General. "It's alright to acknowledge that, but firmly do so. Don't take this posture of amnesia about what you may have believed or said in the past."

Pat Quinn, who along with Kwame Raoul is considered one of the front-runners in the Democratic race, also called out Harold on Friday.

ABC 7 reached out to Governor Rauner's campaign for comment, but neither he nor the head to the Republican Party, Tim Schneider, responded to requests for comment.