Homophobia controversy over potential alderman

There's a controversy brewing over who will replace Ald. Billy Ocasio, who left the Chicago City Council this week to take a top state job with Gov. Pat Quinn.

Ocasio has recommended Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus, who runs a mega church, New Life Covenant Church, in Humboldt Park.

But DeJesus is on record as being against homosexuality and abortion, according to Chicago Pride. He was a driving force against plans for a GLBT Chicago public high school,according to the Windy City Times.

Should one's stance on gay rights or abortion rights be a litmus test for appointment to the City Council?

Usually those issues come under the jurisdiction of federal or state government. But the City Council does have an obligation to send a signal on tolerance.

In 2002, the City Council amended the city's anti-discrimination laws to protect transgender and transsexual Chicagoans from discrimination.

Had there been a vocal anti-gay opponent on the City Council that might have complicated things.

Now that we see gay marriage becoming legal in various states, it's something that we might one day examine in Illinois or Chicago.

De Jesus' beliefs are likely guided by his strong religious convictions and he does do a tremendous amount of good work in Chicago's Hispanic community.  His church, New Life, has various ministries that do everything from feed the homeless, help drug addicts and reform gang members.

I know plenty of Latinos who have compassion for the needy and downtrodden but condemn those who are gay. This is wrong.
There is homophobia in the Hispanic community. Machismo is a part of
the culture and gays are often closeted as they fear rejection by their
families and their church. Clearly, not all Latinos are anti-gay but
there needs to be more tolerance in our community.

Can De Jesus separate his personal beliefs from his potential role as an alderman? We don't yet know the answer to that.

same questions were asked of another politician who held conservative
religious views on abortion and gay issues. Remember Sarah Palin?

Well, fortunately Palin and John McCain lost. So we didn't get to find out.

up to Mayor Daley, who would make the appointment, and the City
Council, who would confirm it, to ask De Jesus if his religious
convictions would shape his political decisions.

We need politicians who will treat us all - gay or straight - as equals.

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