Lori Lightfoot jokingly refers to herself as a “triple-threat” because she is an African-American woman vying to become Chicago’s first openly-gay mayor.
Now, her sexuality is the subject of a dishonest and deceptive flyer distributed to parishioners at black churches on the South Side and elsewhere.
On one side of the flyer is a picture of Lightfoot and her wife, Amy Eshelman, with a sign beneath the couple that reads, “The Gay Equality Act !!! It’s our turn.”
Beneath that is a line in red print: “1st openly gay woman in City Hall.” Above the couple is another line in red that says, “The Feminist and Gay Movement Have Come Full Circle.”
The flip side of the flyer says, among other things, “ALL CONTRACTS, JOBS AND EMPLOYMENT NEWLY ASSIGNED EXCLUSIVELY TO GAY PEOPLE!”
On Monday, Lightfoot condemned the flyer at a City Hall news conference called to announce a slew of new union endorsements in her runoff election against Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
“We’ll have more to say about this in the coming days. But simply put, hate has no place in Chicago,” Lightfoot said.
“Particularly in the context of a horrible terrorist event in Christchurch, the fear that has struck in the Muslim community here — any attempts by anyone to propagate hate, we have to stand together as a city and denounce it unequivocally because hate can have no place in our city.”
No Gay Equality Act
Also on the back of the flyer is this paragraph: “With our people in City Hall, I promise to enforce the Gay Equality Act: All churches will abide by the gay marriage laws. All public restrooms will be gender-free. All Public Schools will teach Gay History by mandate. School Restrooms must be DE-SEGREGATED.”
The bottom of the flyer reads, “We would like to thank Rickey Hendon (Willie Wilson’s chief of staff) for introducing the Gay Equality Act in Springfield.”
There is no “Gay Equality Act.” A proposed “Equality Act” that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ people has been introduced in Congress — not Springfield.
Wilson has endorsed Lightfoot. He has acknowledged that the fact that Lightfoot is a lesbian makes that a tough sell with some among his older, conservative church-based constituency.
Among other places, the flyer was distributed outside Salem Baptist Church, 10909 S. Cottage Grove. That’s the mega-church run by the Rev. James Meeks, a former state senator who flirted with the idea of running for mayor in 2011 before endorsing Carol Moseley Braun over Rahm Emanuel.
It also was plastered on every car around Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, 2622 W. Jackson Blvd., on Sunday morning, according to Wallace “Gator” Bradley, a community activist and former Gangster Disciple. Bradley, who is supporting Preckwinkle, was visiting churches with her and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.
In 2015, Meeks endorsed Emanuel in the runoff against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, arguing that Emanuel took an unfair political “beating” among black voters for closing a record 50 public schools.
Meeks could not be reached for comment.
Lightfoot said Monday that distribution of the flyer was “broader than Rev. Meeks’ church from reports that we’ve heard.” She vowed to “keep moving forward with a positive message.”
“I feel honored and overwhelmed by the incredible support that we have received from neighborhoods and communities all over the city — from places that actually voted for other people leading into the Feb. 26 election,” she said.
“I feel very confident — if we keep working hard and stay focused and not let these kinds of things derail us — we are gonna have a broad mandate for change in this city.”
It’s the second time in a week that Lightfoot’s sexuality has emerged as an issue in the April 2 mayoral runoff.
Last week, Lightfoot and openly gay State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) questioned whether, by complimenting Lightfoot about being open about her sexuality during their first runoff debate, her opponent, Toni Preckwinkle, was sending a not-so-subtle homophobic message by reminding voters who may not know that Lightfoot is a lesbian.
Preckwinkle on Monday tweeted: “I condemn in the strongest possible terms any rhetoric or actions from any person or group that suggests prejudice or discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. There is no place in Chicago, or any society, for intolerance of our LGBTQ community.”
Lightfoot dismisses tax lien report
Also during Monday’s City Hall news conference, Lightfoot dismissed as a “tempest in a teapot” two tax liens filed against her — one in Illinois, the other in California.
“You get notification. You ask for information. You don’t get information back. And then, something happens,” she said.
“We’re talking about $2,000 in the aggregate. I don’t think that’s a determining factor one way or another.”
Lightfoot also took the high-road about the Chicago Teachers Union’s provocative advice to its members to start saving 10 percent of their paychecks for a potential strike.
The CTU is one of Preckwinkle’s biggest supporters, and she also has been endorsed by the Illinois Federation of Teachers. The CTU’s contract with CPS expires in June. Lightfoot called the union an “important institution” in Chicago “built up, in particular, by Karen Lewis,” the CTU’s former president.
Is she concerned that the CTU is looking for a fight?
“People say lots of different things. What I’m gonna be focused on is what we do at the negotiating table and making sure that we are fair to the teachers and that we keep the progress that’s been made at CPS going forward,” she said.
“I’m gonna do everything I can to make sure we get those contract talks concluded before school starts in the fall.”