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5 County Bd. members drop OK of Gay Games

Thursday, July 21, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

The Gay Games are apparently not as welcome here as some thought.

Last month, Cook County commissioners unanimously approved a measure welcoming the Olympic-style games to Chicago next year.

But since then, five of the 17 commissioners have yanked their names from that welcome.

Now, the Illinois Family Institute is urging its conservative supporters to pressure Democratic commissioners to join Republicans Gregg Goslin, Liz Gorman, Carl Hansen, Tony Peraica and Peter Silvestri in withdrawing support.

"There's a big difference between tolerating and celebrating homosexuality," said the Illinois Family Institute's Peter LaBarbera. "For governments to be using taxpayer money and big corporations spending money to sponsor this, we think the average Joe sees that as being just a little bit off."

The Gay Games Sports and Cultural Festival, with competitions open regardless of sexual orientation, will have its seventh celebration here next summer, and after a welcome from Mayor Daley, the county and state issued official welcoming proclamations.

But Peraica -- who is running for County Board president next year -- said "I must have been out of the room" when that happened.

"It's just not in keeping with my personal beliefs," he said. "I'm a pro-family kind of person and conservative on social issues. That's nothing against the gay and lesbian community, but it's nothing I want to advance as a cause celebre."

'Noncontroversial'

Gay Games spokeswoman Tracy Baim said the Republican backtracking "wasn't surprising," and she "was actually more surprised when they" voted in favor of it.

The welcome, included among routine proclamations before the board, "didn't carry with it anything substantial, other than civic pride," so she said it's "noncontroversial in our minds."

But Commissioner Mike Quigley, who sponsored the welcome and will play hockey in the games, said, "It's a blinding bias and animosity that is overriding human interest, job creation, economic development and the whole spirit of athletic competition."

Gorman said she doesn't support "special rights for any group," while Goslin, Hansen and Silvestri could not be reached for comment.



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