LGBT community leaders showcase broad support for Emanuel

Fri. January 28, 2011 4:18 PM by Kevin Wayne

rahm emanuel at center on halsted

photo credit // anthony meade
Chicago, IL - Less than 24 hours after the Illinois Supreme Court decided that Rahm Emanuel can run for mayor, he held a press conference at the Center on Halsted where he announced the support of over 200 LGBT and Allied community leaders.

Robert Kohl, co-chair of Emanuel's campaign, introduced the committee to the press and community members gathered Friday morning at the Center on Halsted.

"As some of you know we wouldn't be standing here in the Center if it weren't for Rahm Emanuel," said Kohl.

The LGBT community center located in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood was built in large part with 1.25 million dollars in federal funds that Emanuel helped secure while he served in Congress.

"This support is one of the reasons our community is supporting Rahm Emanuel today," said Kohl. "We are launching the LGBT and Allied Committee for Rahm."

The endorsements announced included all four of Chicago's openly gay elected officials: Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), state Rep. Deborah Mell (D-Chicago) and Commission of the Water Reclamation District Debra Shore (D). Harris was unable to attend Friday's event.

A number politicians, all noted allies of the LGBT community, were in attendance and joined the committee, including Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), former state Sen. Carol Ronen (D-Chicago) and Ald. Mary Ann Smith (48th). Former state comptroller Dan Hynes, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) were unable to attend but also joined in support.

Others community leaders backing Emanuel included Center on Halsted Executive Director Modesto Tico Valle, Chicago House CEO Stan Sloan, Lambda Legal Midwest Regional Director Jim Bennett, Vernita Gray, Israel Wright, Kevin Boyer, Laura Ricketts and LGBT Mayoral Liason Bill Greaves.

"The LGBT and Allied Committee demonstrates the overwhelming support for Rahm in the LGBT community," said Kohl.

During a short statement Emanuel outlined his support for the LGBT community including his fight for legal protection, funding and opportunity across Chicago.

"I'm honored by your support today," said Emanuel to applause.

The candidate, flanked by 50 supporters, took a few questions including what he would do as mayor to push the LGBT community further.

"I think our city is an accomplished city, the LGBT community is a central part of our city," said Emanuel. "We'll be looking at a number of issues, including bullying. To make the school system safer."

Emanuel also discussed his support for the recently passed civil unions bill in Illinois.

"In the debate for civil unions, though I wasn't an office holder, I made phone calls," he said. "I look forward to making phone calls on the issue of marriage."

While serving in Congress, Emanuel maintained a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.

The LGBT Committee for Rahm plans a get out the vote campaign to begin Monday, the first day of early voting. They have also scheduled a Feb. 11 fundraiser for Emanuel, with details to be announced soon on Emanuel's campaign web site.

Additional reporting by Anthony Meade

Related: view photo gallery for the event