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The Mechanics

GLBT Mon Dec 10 2012

Inclusion Wins and Woes: Interview with Caitlin Huxley, President of the Log Cabin Republicans of Illinois

By Rachel Angres

With the recent Lambda Legal lawsuit filed against the Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of 25 gay couples who wish to be married in Illinois and the Supreme Court's clandestine meetings over the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8, the path for legalizing same sex marriage in Illinois is far from clear. Proponents of same-sex marriage are in most cases liberal organizations and individuals, with one exception: The Log Cabin Republicans.

Log Cabin Republicans of IllinoisThe Log Cabin Republican Group is a national grassroots organization made up of conservative to moderate libertarian Republicans in the LGBT community and their "straight allies," who fight for equal rights. Based on their motto that "inclusion wins," LCR members share the common understanding that the GOP is stronger without alienating its LGBT members along with their friends and family through antigay ideologies and policies.

I recently spoke with Caitlin Huxley, president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Illinois, about the organization's role in the GOP and its position on DOMA and civil unions.

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Mechanics / Comments (1)

GLBT Mon Jan 31 2011

"A Slap in the Face." Equality Illinois, Rick Garcia & LGBTQ Coalitions

This article was written by freelance journalist Samantha Winslow.

Juan Calderon sips coffee at Café Colao on Division Street in the historic center for the Chicago's Puerto Rican community. This part of Humboldt Park is marked by red and blue metal banners on each end in the shape of the Puerto Rican flag. The café, known for Puerto Rican style coffee and pastries, is a block from where he works at the Vida/SIDA center inside the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

Calderon begins to talk about why he and fellow Humboldt Park activist Roberto Sanabria published a letter in the Windy City Times, a Chicago publication for the gay and lesbian community, voicing their concern and anger over Equality Illinois firing Rick Garcia, the political director and co-founder of the state's largest advocacy organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.

"Firing Rick Garcia was a slap in the face to the Latino community," Calderon says.

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Mechanics / Comments (2)

GLBT Thu Aug 12 2010

"They Are Not Functioning According to Their Natural Design": Notes from an Anti-Gay Conference

Setting the Stage

Peter LaBarbera looked drained. His glasses drooped in weary harmony with the sandy hair barely populating his head, and even his suit seemed poised to crumple and fold. The soft-spoken conservative had clearly worked long hours trying to galvanize his newest venture, a group called Americans for Truth about Homosexuality (AFTAH).

The non-profit, which describes itself as "a national organization devoted exclusively to exposing and countering the homosexual activist agenda," has done very little since its formation. Until last week, AFTAH mostly peppered its web site with opinion pieces on homosexual activist infiltrations, from Ronald McDonald to the DoubleTree Hotel.

LaBarbera must have wanted to escalate. Last week, AFTAH launched an ambitious three-day "Truth Academy" in Arlington Heights. Nine speakers were flown in from around the country to "answer the myths, lies and misinformation of the nation's Homosexual Lobby." For a daily $50 fee, Academy attendees were handed binders, name-tags and a discounted price on any DVD recording of the event. LaBarbera expected the Truth Academy would be "one of the most important and comprehensive pro-family conferences on homosexuality that has ever been held in the United States."

Groups such as AFTAH may be marginal, but they are ruthlessly dedicated to their cause. Their tautological arguments against gays and lesbians begin with religion and end with the archetypal homosexual scapegoat, that they are responsible for undermining the military and the government through an agenda that is at once elite and socialistic. These theories are neither new nor politically effective. Similar ideas took hold during the McCarthy era, but in the 1950s gays and lesbians were much less visible. In the past 30 years, the LGBT minority has been largely emancipated and openly accepted into the American mainstream. Anti-gay ideas are resurging today because of an environment of fear, exacerbated by a bad recession and perceived threats to national security. Exploiting these conditions gives groups like AFTAH what little power they have, and therein lies their potential for harm.

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Timna Axel / Comments (19)

GLBT Tue Jun 01 2010

"For the Record, My Name is Sherry Wolf, and I am a Socialist"

At October's National Equality March for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Washington, DC, a tall, fit woman with a quantity of curly gray hair strode to the microphone and gripped both sides of the podium.

"I hope Glenn Beck is watching," she began in a powerful voice, "because for the record, my name is Sherry Wolf, and I am a socialist!"

Her name was not as well-known to the crowd of 200,000 as some of the day's other speakers, like NAACP chair Julian Bond and pop star Lady Gaga, and her proclamation of socialist politics was not echoed in the day's additional speeches.

But much of the crowd would not have been present without this socialist's efforts. Sherry Wolf, a Chicago author and LGBT activist, was an organizer for the first mass gay rights march in a decade and the first mass protest to pressure President Obama to act on his campaign promises on any issue.

Despite her lack of name recognition, Wolf's activist history for LGBT equality and socialism spans the course of several decades. As gay and lesbian interests become institutionalized, she remains firmly outside the LGBT establishment -- and that's the way she wants it.

Sherry_Wolf.jpg
Photo by Jared Rodriguez

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Micah Uetricht / Comments (12)

Aldermen Thu Apr 15 2010

Nowotny to Run for Alderman in 46th Ward

The 46th Ward on the city's North Side is a hotbed of political activity. Highly organized and home to many of the city's good government activists, the Uptown centered ward can be relied upon to seethe with invective come election time. The entry of Don Nowotny, the Ward's Streets and Sanitation Commissioner, into the race to replace long-time alderman Helen Shiller, ensures we won't be disappointed. Nowotny's entry also means the race will have at least three openly gay candidates--creating the potential for Chicago's City Council to have two openly gay aldermen.

Updated to improve my geography reputation; original post included Edgewater.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (2)

GLBT Thu Apr 08 2010

Won't You Be My Gaybor?

Obit magazine pronounces the death of the Gayborhood.

This is the American gayborhood. If you've never been, I'm sorry to report: It's already dead.

The name is explanatory. It's where gay people lived and hung out, somehow fulfilling stereotypes while simultaneously stimulating social justice. Gayborhoods were born in the second-half of the 20th century in relatively run-down, forsaken parts of cities, away from the establishment that could give a damn about man-on-man P.D.A., and side-by-side with others who found themselves similarly sidelined: the poor, drug addicts, ethnic minorities. Sometimes referred to with the euphemism "artists," gays became the Marines of gentrification, storming and conquering destitute places. Then, unencumbered with the financial burden of Huggie's, ballet classes and lunch boxes, they dropped cash. Disposable incomes turned vacant factories into lofts and abandoned lots into community gardens. They brought a live-and-let-live attitude, a sense of style, and several places to eat sushi.

I have to admit, the two Chicago "gayborhoods" of my youth--Boy's Town and Andersonville--seem to have lost some of their energy, but I'm not up there as much as when I was younger and worked nearby. Are Chicago's gayborhoods dying?

Ramsin Canon / Comments (3)

Chicago Tue Mar 09 2010

Westboro Baptist Church Embarrass Themselves

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Activists demonstrate against the Westboro Baptist Church.


The Westboro Baptist Church, a hate group that chartered themselves as a church to get away with their harassment of Queer groups, Jews, military families and others, conducted a tour of Chicago on March 8th.

The group of five lonely haters targeted Jewish centers, protesting everything more modern than the middle ages at Hillel's at UIC and the University of Chicago before holding their signs outside of the Israeli consulate.

Hundreds of queer rights activists rallied against the Westboro group. Activists used humorous and satirical signs to mock WBC. UIC student Jason Connell used the appearance of the hate group to raise money for queer rights groups such as Human Rights Campaign, International AIDS Foundation and Chicago based Jerusalem Open House. Donations were named in honor of the Westboro Baptist Church and community thank you cards will be sent from the non-profits to WBC leader Fred Phelps. Connell called it a, "Lemons to Lemonade" situation.

Kurt Esslinger Lee, an Presbyterian ordained minister from the UIC Agape House Christian Campus Ministry said, "We don't care so much about this group of hate, we know that they are not going to listen to anything we say. What we are care about is the closeted, afraid LGBTQ students around UIC who are are taught to hate themselves to think that god is also loathing them, so we reaching out to them to break through that ignorance."

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Activists demonstrate against the Westboro Baptist Church.


Video of the event is available through Dogstar7's Youtube Channel.

Satire of WBC is at the Youtube Channel of CrazyPastorFred.

Matt Muchowski / Comments (9)

Health Care Thu Feb 25 2010

Health Care Reformers Rally to Pressure Obama's Summit

dscn1293.jpg

Rally attendee's hold signs to signify the number of people who die in Illinois everyday that health care reform is not passed.


The evening before President Obama's Health Care summit, over 300 Chicago activists rallied in the Chicago Temple to demand passage of a health care bill that would extend coverage and hold health insurance companies accountable. The rally was organized by Health Care for America Now! and was one of several rallies across the country.

The crowd at the rally challenged a representative from Senator Dick Durbin's office. Durbin has not yet signed a letter in support of the public option that is being passed around the Senate. The crowd began to shout, "Sign the letter! Sign the Letter!"

Andy Kurz, the former CFO for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Wisconsin, told rally attendees that, "I'm not here tonight to convince you the bill is good, far from it. I am here to say that this bill is necessary." Kurz explained that while much was compromised in the bill, that abolishing prior conditions, extending dependent coverage and other reforms will reduce the cost of medical care and make it important to pass the imperfect bills in Congress.

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Matt Muchowski / Comments (3)

Immigration Wed Dec 23 2009

Rep. Gutierrez's Immigration Bill

Earlier this month Congressman Luis Gutierrez introduced a comprehensive reform bill (with the too-cute-by-half acronym CIR ASAP, Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act) that would provide a meaningful path to legality and citizenship for millions of families working in the shadows of the economy.

The immigration issue is often shuffled into the "social issues" rubric of American politics, but it is essentially an economic issue. Enforcing a legal regime that keeps a huge number of people participating in the lower rungs of the economy outside of labor law protections has a profound ripple effect. It weakens the bargaining ability of other workers and on a basic level denies some pretty elemental human rights to a lot of people. Mass deportations is neither feasible nor moral; and big business would despair at any move like that, given how much so many industries (particularly light manufacturing, agriculture, and construction) rely on cheap immigrant labor.

What is clear is that the current system is wholly unsustainable. Horror stories of immigrant (and some citizen) treatment by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have bubbled to the surface over the last year; potentially illegal coordination between local governments and ICE have caused friction between law enforcement and immigrant communities. Last fiscal year, ICE gained the dubious distinction of becoming the largest detention system in the United States:

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Ramsin Canon / Comments (2)

GLBT Mon Dec 07 2009

Illinois Democrats Put Off LGBT Rights...Again

[Editor's note: This op-ed was submitted by Patrick F. Kelly]

Gays and lesbians can go ahead and scratch Civil Unions off their holiday wish list this season, as a Nov. 30 deadline for moving on Civil Unions legislation passed with almost no action by the Democratic-controlled Illinois legislature -- except to create a new deadline nearly half a year away.

The fact that the deadline was missed comes as no surprise, considering the state legislature has been adjourned for weeks and is not scheduled to meet again until Jan. 12. Still, this is just one more turn in a complex holding pattern the state Democrats have locked this bill into.

The Nov. 30 deadline was set near the end of the Spring legislative session. For months prior to that, the state House had sat on HB2234, a Civil Unions bill proposed by Rep. Greg Harris, an openly gay Democrat serving Chicago's North Side.

Then all the sudden on May 26, there was a political earthquake in California. The California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, a controversial ballot initiative that banned gay marriage in the state. Gays and lesbians throughout the nation were stunned, frustrated, even angry. In Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, the heart of Chicago's gay community, protesters gathered on the streets and demanded justice.

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Ramsin Canon / Comments (3)

GLBT Tue Sep 08 2009

Windy City Times on Giannoulias' GLBT Positions

The Windy City Times offers a preview of their piece detailing US Senate Candidate Alexi Giannoulias' positions on GLBT issues.

No American in a committed, long-term relationship should be denied inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, equal pension and health care benefits, and all of the other legal protections government grants married couples. Alexi supports the right of individual states to give same-sex couples the right to marry, and would work to ensure that the federal government recognizes these marriages by supporting the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (0)

GLBT Fri Sep 04 2009

Cleve Jones Rallies Chicago's GLBT and Friends Community

GLBT rights organizer Cleve Jones was in Chicago this week. He made a call for regionally and stat focused gay rights organizing efforts to be more globally focused. The Windy City Times has the scoop.

Jones, and many in the crowd, expressed disappointment with Democratic political leaders: "The Democrats have been betraying us for years and years and years." He singled out President Barack Obama, who has not fulfilled campaign promises regarding the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and the Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ) ; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who Jones said recently described repealing DOMA as "not a priority"; and Rep. Barney Frank, who refused to include housing protections in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (1)

GLBT Wed Jun 24 2009

Gay Marriage and Why Evangelicals Shouldn't Care

Protests, yelling, legislation for, legislation against, Perez Hilton forcing us to hear the opinions of a Beauty Queen, that Beauty Queen thinking we actually care... This gay marriage situation has gotten out of hand. Whatever you think about the issue, I think that we can all agree that when Sean Penn starts acting like the gay community's MLK, something needs to be done. The last thing we need is Sean Penn thinking he has anything substantive to contribute to the conversation.

What we need here is clarity, and I aim to provide just that. We should begin, though, with something that has thus far been lacking: an understanding of the core issues with which each party is concerned. So, I will provide a summary of each side to the best of my ability, and then I will postulate a solution that I believe satisfies both parties.

The Pro-Gay Marriage Perspective:
Proponents of gay marriage see it as an issue of equal rights. These are Americans who want to enter into a contracted marriage relationship allowing for the legal rights allotted to such a relationship: inheritance, insurance benefits, medical decisions, joint tax filing, divorce, in-laws and children that don't respect you. They see the opposition as bigoted, prejudiced and hateful. Many compare the fight for gay marriage to the civil rights movements in the '60s. Although such a comparison is somewhat of a superlative, legally and constitutionally there isn't really a solid argument against gay marriage. The only argument against is religious, which brings us to the other perspective.

The Anti-Gay Marriage Perspective:
Be it Christianity, Mormonism, Orthodox Judaism or Islam, the practice of homosexual behavior is prohibited within most major religions. Whether people like it or not, it is a facet of each of these religions. Homosexual activity is deemed a sin. Marriage, thus, is believed to be only appropriate between a man and a woman. The people that oppose gay marriage do so, I believe, because they feel as though their religious beliefs are being threatened by society. They fear that legalization would encroach on their religion; they see themselves as the victims of a society whose morals are in direct conflict with those which their religion commands. They see a legalization of gay marriage as a "moral decline" in society. And although each of these religions has within its tenets a prohibition of homosexual activity, the loudest voice of all of them is the Evangelical Protestant. That being said, I will refer to the anti-gay marriage perspective as "Evangelical" from now on, but it should be understood that the aforementioned religions are also included.

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Conor McCarthy / Comments (12)

Education Wed Feb 04 2009

How Not to Advocate Charter Schools: A Case Study

There are many excellent arguments in support of charter schools -- including nearly 17,000 in the form of students voluntarily enrolled in Chicago's charters from 2006-2007 -- but I've never encountered a bad one.

Until now.

Today's Southtown Star features an opinion piece by Fran Eaton in which she suggests Chicago parents should support charter schools because incoming Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman is gay.

Say what?

Eaton writes:

There are few choices for dissatisfied Chicago parents. Either move to another school district, find an alternate means of education for their children, or get over their concerns, accept homosexuality as normal and admit to themselves they are abnormal for thinking anything different...One way is to establish more charter schools.

Eaton quotes the director of the Illinois Family Institute's Division of School Advocacy, who thinks Huberman's appointment portends certain doom -- or gayness -- for CPS students:

"First, Huberman will be called upon to superintend issues related to how homosexuality is addressed in Chicago public schools," Higgins wrote. "Second, Huberman serves as a public role model. His open, unapologetic, unrepentant appropriation and affirmation of sexual deviance as morally defensible and central to his identity vitiates any legitimacy as premier educational leader in Chicago that his admirable qualities may have otherwise conferred on him."

(Hypothetically speaking, would Huberman be more acceptable as CPS's CEO were he to apologize for his sexuality? Just how silly is that question?)

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Richard Lorenc / Comments (8)

Feature

How Lawsuits, Lobbyists and Parking Meter Deals Led to Ventra

By Jason Prechtel / 2 Comments

Cubic learned early on that if you don't win a contract through bidding, there are other ways to prevail. More...

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Classroom Mechanics Oral History Project



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