Updated: June 25, 2013 6:24AM
An article in Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times, “Black caucus split on gay marriage,” featured some disturbing quotes from two members of that caucus. State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, who had two openly gay nephews who died from HIV-related complications, stated that he “wanted to make this clear” that marriage equality was “not a civil rights issue. This is about choice, and the civil rights movement was about people who didn’t have rights.” As an openly gay man, I no more made a “choice” to be gay than Jones presumably did to be heterosexual. The only choice a gay person might make, and it is actually more of a realization, is that you do not have to live in the closet, that you do not have to be ashamed of being gay. For far too long I denied to myself that I was gay. When I finally found the inner strength to accept that this is how I was born and an inherent part of who I am, I finally felt complete as a person. If being gay were a choice, I would not have fought it as long as I did. Perhaps Jones should ask the parents of his late nephews if they thought their sons made a “choice.”
Far more upsetting, however, were the inflammatory and ignorant remarks made by Rep. Monique Davis. I’ll quickly dismiss her comment that same-sex couples are not “equipped to be in what a marriage is” as denigrating marriage to nothing more than an excuse for vaginal intercourse. Her truly offensive comment came when she was asked if marriage equality was a civil rights issue. She responded, “Have they ever been hung from trees? Were they ever slaves for 500 years, then I don’t think so.” I called her office that morning and asked to speak with her. I was told she was not in. I asked the person who answered the phone to ask Davis if she had ever heard of Matthew Shepard, the gay young man who wasn’t hung from a tree, but was brutally beaten and left to die strung up on a fence like a scarecrow. I mentioned others who were murdered for being gay. Rep. Davis has denigrated and trivialized all of those who have been killed because of their actual or perceived sexuality. Would she say that the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II wasn’t a civil rights issue because they were not hanged from trees? Was the fight for women to be given the vote and equality in the workplace not a civil rights issue for the same reason? Davis owes every gay person an apology for so casually dismissing those who have been killed, beaten and harassed for being who they were born to be.
David Magdziarz, Logan Square
Rep. Monique Davis uses discrimination against African-Americans to justify another form of discrimination — denying marriage equality for LGBT people. I hope the undecided members of the Black Caucus are not swayed by her fallacious argument.
Bob Barth, Edgewater
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is agreeing to longer parking meter times with higher prices but he wants to provide free parking on Sundays because, “You shouldn’t have to pay to go to church.” What about those who don’t go to church? We have to subsidize the cost of parking for an institution that is already tax-exempt?
Tony Maguire, Jefferson Park
CPS Board didn’t listen
After the Chicago Board of Education voted to close 50 schools on Wednesday, the Sun-Times wrote in an editorial that we should all move forward for the sake of the children. The editorial said that the school board listened to the many opponents of the closings before passing their verdict. Perhaps moving forward is our only choice at this point, but to suggest the board listened to the parents, students, teachers and principals who opposed these ill-conceived closings is ridiculous. Neither schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Mayor Rahm Emanuel nor a single board member attended a single one of the sham “hearings” on the closings of these neighborhood schools. In what way is that listening?
Edward Dziedzic, Rogers Park
Now that the Chicago Board of Education has voted to close numerous schools, I wonder who will be the first to step up to the plate and assume responsibility when issues arise from children having to take longer walks through questionable neighborhoods.
Carlyle B Edwards, East Chicago, Ind.
No respect, no respect
It seemed very strange to hear Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis state that the school board was disrespectful to the students and parents. What did she consider her performance on stage toward Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year?
Art Carpenter, Garfield Ridge