I am deeply dismayed by the reported recommendation of Wilfredo DeJesus as a possible replacement for Alderman Billy Ocasio. This appointment would effectively abrogate every advance Mayor Richard Daley has made toward achieving greater LGBT acceptance and equality in Chicago.
Wilfredo DeJesus' shameful measure of notoriety stems from his unabashed desire to deny basic rights to both women and LGBT people through dogmatic zealotry which he exercises through the control and denigration of others. The actions and statements of Mr. DeJesus in his crusade against women and gays render the premise of him equitably and responsibly serving the people of the 26th Ward as unlikely. Mr. DeJesus openly promotes exclusion and intolerance while embracing bigotry and subjugation under the cloak of religious respectability. His actions ultimately serve to plant the seeds of hatred and violence against marginalized and at-risk populations.
The presence of Wilfredo DeJesus in an official municipal capacity undermines our embrace of 'human rights' as a worthy ideal. His record strongly suggests he is unworthy of this position of public trust. We should no more countenance a dedicated homophobe as a prospective alderman than we would an avowed anti-Semite or racist.
A debacle with De Jesús
As you all know, 26th Ward Alderman Billy Ocasio has resigned his post and is now serving Gov. Pat Quinn. Mr. Ocasio has suggested to Mayor Daley that he should be replaced by Rev. Wilfredo De Jesús.
According to an article in Christianity Today, "Wilfredo De Jesús, 44-year-old senior pastor of New Life Covenant, and Assemblies of God Church in Chicago with an attendance of 4,000, says Obama is the first Democratic candidate he has ever supported. Until now, De Jesús says, opposing abortion and homosexuality have been the paramount moral issues for him. But De Jesús says Obama's comments about the mistreatment of illegal immigrants have led him to put more emphasis on immigration in terms of advocacy and ministry."
As member of the Equality Illinois Board, as a Latino who will be celebrating LGBT Pride on the 26th Ward proper, Saturday, June 13, at Humboldt Park, 12-6 p.m., I am appalled and completely oppose that such person could represent me in any city business. I encourage every pro-choice and pro-gay member of the 26th Ward to write to Mayor Daley and complain.
The wrong replacement
I am writing as a former liaison to the LGBT communities under former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, as a Hall of Fame friend of the community and as someone who cares deeply about the advancement of civil rights.
Apparently, Rev. Wilfredo De Jesús is under consideration to replace Alderman Billy Ocasio in the 26th Ward. I very strongly oppose his appointment. De Jesus is an extreme homophobe, one who opposed any city efforts to fund/sponsor anti-AIDS efforts in the past and who currently has declared as his primary objectives rescinding LGBT rights and doing away with a woman's right to choose. If appointed to the council, he will undoubtedly seek to reopen civil rights and other legislation currently in effect, which we fought long and hard to pass.
The city can ill afford either the dissention this would cause, or the expensive law suits which would arise from his efforts. I can think of no good reason for appointing this man: if whoever's pushing this believes it would simply be reaching out to evangelicals they must realize this man is much closer to a Fred Phelps than he is to a Rick Warren, and that such a move will do nothing to further understanding and civility.
I am hoping decision-makers will also recognize the political implications of such an appointment. Throughout the 26th Ward, and the 4th Congressional District which encompasses it, there is a large LGBT population and, if energized by this man's hatred, they will most certainly organize in 2010 against anyone who has advocated for this misguided appointment. I will absolutely and determinedly join in those efforts.
I urge everyone to contact the mayor, their ward committeemen and aldermen to express their opposition to this appointment.