Pride Week takes on political tone

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The 45th annual Chicago Pride Parade steps off tomorrow, but a giant banner outside of a bar in Boystown is already making headlines.

The issue of same-sex marriage is at the forefront of this year’s Pride week. The legalization of same-sex marriage in June is obviously a cause for celebration for many people here; this event is also being politicized by this banner.

A gay rights activist group put it up for the event and is posting the banner at Roscoe Street and Halsted Street, one of the busiest corners in Boystown. The black and white sign features a quote about same-sex marriage attributed to Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner saying, “If I were governor, I would veto it.”

The banner actually paraphrases something Rauner said in December 2013 before the same-sex marriage bill was passed by state lawmakers. When asked if he would veto the bill, Rauner responded that he would. “I’ve said from day one, I have not supported gay marriage and I have not advocated for it,” he said.

The gay rights group Equality Illinois is behind the banner, designed to catch the attention of potential voters ahead of the gubernatorial election in November, where the Republican Rauner will face off against the Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn. Quinn signed the same-sex marriage bill into law.

Art Johnston of Equality Illinois believes it is important for the Pride festivities to be fun and informative.

“Right now, most of our people are not aware of this Rauner guy,” he said. “So it’s the opportunity to do a little education in our own community. I don’t want to spoil the party, but I do want our people to know that we have an enemy who is a clear and present danger to our lives.”

A spokesperson from the Rauner campaign says the Republican candidate does not have a social agenda. However, now that the bill has been signed into law, he is comfortable with it and would not seek to change it if he becomes governor.

A spokesperson for Gov. Quinn says Quinn is a champion of same-sex rights, and that’s why he signed that same-sex marriage bill into law.

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