Saturday, July 18, 2009

Update: Homophobic Pentecostal preacher no longer being considered for Chicago City Council

In other Latino Pentecostal preacher news of the day: We are happy to report that homophobic reverend Wilfredo De Jesus is out of contention for a vacated seat in the Chicago City Council.

Apparently, when a Chicago City Council Alderman leaves his post before his term is over, he is able to recommend a replacement, which is how De Jesus seemed next in line to replace former Alderman Billy Ocasio in Chicago's 26th Ward. Usual practice, according to reports, is for the city mayor to accept the recommendation and for the person to serve as an Alderman until the next elections.

But LGBT advocates in Chicago, including a number of Latino LGBT leaders and organizations, quickly raised concerns about a series of homophobic comments made in the past by the Reverend (see my previous posts on the subject here, here and here) as well as a statement he made last year to Christianity Today in which he said that his top priorities were opposing abortion and homosexuality.

Well, according to an article that ran yesterday in the Chicago Tribune ("Outgoing alderman wants wife to be his successor, controversial minister backs out of running"), De Jesus is out of the running for the vacated seat. He actually announced that he was withdrawing and, in statements to press by both Ocasio and De Jesus, the reason given was that laws prohibit anyone who doesn't live in the ward to occupy the ward's Alderman seat. They also denied it had anything to do with his views on homosexuality. Uh-huh. And elephants are pink.

Funny, though, De Jesus has never shied away from saying that he doesn't live in the 26th Ward (although his church is in the district) and it never seemed to be an issue for him or for Ocasio until now.

But the nomination threatened to become a headache for Chicago Mayor Richard Daley who has always prided himself on being LGBT friendly as it threatened to pitch interests in the Latino community against those in the LGBT community. Most probably, De Jesus's withdrawal was a private agreement to give him a 'respectable' way out.

As for the vacated seat, Ocasio's new recommendation probably doesn't speak well for his choices either. He's brought back that old chestnut: Nepotism.

Ocasio's new choice is non other than his wife, Veronica. Dailey has said that he is interviewing at least four others for the seat.


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