Chicago, IL —
Illinois' oldest LGBT rights organization is urging the community to call Cardinal Francis George's office in response to his statement equating the gay rights movement with the Ku Klux Klan.
"You don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating against Catholicism," Cardinal George, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Chicago, said Wednesday during a pre-recorded interview with Fox Chicago Sunday set to air Christmas morning on WFLD-TV.
The Cardinal's statement was in reference to a local priest's concern about the new route and start time for the Chicago Gay Pride Parade, which the leadership of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, one of the oldest Catholic churches in Chicago, argued would conflict with Mass and inconvenience parishioners.
Coincidentally, the 10 a.m. start time was changed Thursday by parade organizers to accommodate the church. The 2012 parade will begin at Noon on Sunday, June 24, 2012.
"To compare LGBT equality movement to the KKK is beyond irresponsible. The Cardinal not only mocks LGBT people who are struggling for equal protection under the law, but he also trivializes the real suffering experienced by KKK's victims - African Americans, Jews, and others - in the darkest days of our country's history," Equality Illinois (EQIL) CEO Bernard Cherkasov told ChicagoPride.com.
In an email to supporters, EQIL called the Cardinal's statements "completely contrary to the spirit of the holiday season and all norms of decency."
The group encouraged its members to call the Cardinal's office (312-534-8230) and demand an apology.
On Wednesday, State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), whose district includes the parade route, told ChicagoPride.com: "The Cardinals unfortunate choice of words in comparing the LGBT community to the Klu Klux Klan is offensive. I would hope an apology be forthcoming."
In an editorial posted Friday on the Windy City Times website, publisher Tracy Baim called for the Cardinal to "graciously apologize, and step down from his post" and called the Cardinal's comments "vile."
Cardinal George and the Archdiocese of Chicago have recently clashed with the LGBT community over the passage and implementation of civil unions in the state.
Calls by ChicagoPride.com to the Archdiocese of Chicago have not been returned.