Chicago, IL —
A movement to ban politicians from Chicago's annual Pride Parade is gaining traction.
Curtis Bumgarner of Chicago created an online petition on Change.org shortly after the Illinois House adjourned on Friday without bringing Senate Bill 10, the state's equality bill, up for a vote.
Bumgarner told ChicagoPride.com that if the politicians desire the support of the LGBT community, "they need to show support."
As of Monday afternoon, the petition
has 500 signatures.
Comments include this from Brad of Chicago, "Support us and we will support you."
And another from Mark of Chicago, "I find it inconceivable that politicians march in our parade, year after year, trying to garner our votes. But when the time comes that we finally need something from them, they turn our backs on us."
Paul of Rockford offered this suggestion, "If the politicians are not denied, the next best possible demonstration by the community would be for everyone to turn their backs and stand silently as the make their ways through the parade route."
Jane Byrne, mayor of Chicago from 1979-1983, became the first high-profile politician to participate in the parade on June 30, 1985, according to LGBT writer and historian Sukie de la Croix. As mayor, Byrne declared the first "Gay Pride Parade Day" in 1981.
"People seem to forget the Pride Parade celebrates a riot, an uprising against brutal police, laws, and politicians," said de la Croix.
In the early 1980's, state Rep. Ellis Levin was actually the first politician to participate, according to Richard Pfeiffer, who has been involved with organizing the parade since 1971, its second year of existence.
Pfeiffer and his group, PRIDEChicago
, told ChicagoPride.com they have no plans to remove politicians. Pfeiffer confirmed at this time only two House lawmakers, Reps. Greg Harris and Sara Feigenholtz, are registered to participate in this year's parade. Harris was the chief sponsor of SB10 and has come under sharp criticism from advocacy groups and members of the LGBT community.
"Parade day should not be a day of division and rancor, but rather one of love, pride and unity," said Pfeiffer.
He also cited a joint statement
issued Monday by Harris and Windy City Times
publisher Tracy Baim, who was critical of Harris in an editorial posted Saturday, that said while opinions on strategy and tactics may differ, we can all still be civil and achieve success.
Criticism over politicians in the parade is nothing new. People have complained for years that too many of the politicians, who do not have to pay for entry, are positioned at the front of the parade. Pfeiffer said his group has heard the feedback and noted that in recent years they've started spreading politicians back.
The 44th annual Chicago Pride Parade is Sunday, June 30, 2013. NFL player and activist Wade Davis was announced
as the Grand Marshal last Thursday. UPDATE
POSTED TUE. JUN 4, 2013 9:30 AM
Curtis Bumgarner, the petition creator, told ChicagoPride.com, "Though parade organizers state that they will not remove politicians from the parade, the petition sends a message to our Illinois LGBTQ political leaders that they can be replaced and we seek new leadership."
As of Tuesday morning, the petition
has over 1,000 signatures.
The Gay Liberation Network
will address the parade petition and failure of SB-10 during their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Berger Park Cultural Center, corner of Sheridan and Granville Ave.