Five Commissioners rescind welcome of 2006 Gay Games in Chicago

Thursday, July 21, 2005

File photo of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan taken from the Sears Tower observation deck. Source: Wikicommons

A month after the Cook County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to welcome the 2006 Gay Games to Chicago, the five Republicans on the board withdrew their names under pressure from conservative activists. Chicago is located in Cook County.

The Gay Games is an Olympics-style multi-day international sports competition targeted to LGBT athletes.

Commissioners Gregg Goslin, Liz Gorman, Carl Hansen, Tony Peraica and Peter Silvestri, the only Republicans sitting on the Board of Commissioners withdrew their names from the proclamation. "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," Peraica told the Chicago Sun-Times. In the same report, Gorman said that she doesn't support "special rights for any group."

An anti-gay rights lobbying group, the Illinois Family Institute (IFI), says it is trying to get Democrat commissioners to also withdraw their names from the official welcome. "There is a difference between tolerating and celebrating homosexuality," Peter LaBarera, a spokesman for the group said in an Associated Press interview. The IFI also expressed concern about taxpayer money being used to promote the event.

Although Gay Games spokeswoman Tracy Baim she said she was not surprised by the reversal of the five commissioners, Mike Quigley, a Democrat Cook County Commissioner said of the retraction of his colleagues, "It's a blinding bias and animosity that is overriding human interest, job creation, economic development and the whole spirit of athletic competition." Quigley was the sponsor of the proclamation and plans to play ice hockey in the games.

The 12 other commissioners who voted for the welcome proclamation maintained their support for the event, which is scheduled to run from July 15 to July 22, 2006 and projected to generate between $50 million and $80 million in tourist business to the city and county.


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