Homophobic flyers target lesbian candidate in Chicago's mayoral race

“Prejudice still lurks in lots of different forms,” Chicago mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot said.
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Chicago mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot speaks during a forum on crime and violence at University of Chicago Institute of Politics, Harris School of Public Policy and Crime Lab in Chicago on March 13, 2019.Kamil Krzaczynski / AFP - Getty Images
By Gwen Aviles

Homophobic flyers surfaced in Chicago’s South Side over the weekend targeting the city’s lesbian mayoral candidate, Lori Lightfoot.

“Prejudice still lurks in lots of different forms,” Lightfoot told Chicago’s NBC 5.

At first glance, the flyers appear to be part of the Lightfoot campaign. One side includes an image of Lightfoot and her wife, Amy Eshleman, along with a message that reads, “The Gay Equality Act!!! It’s our turn.” The other side, however, tells a different story: “All Contracts, Jobs and employment newly assigned exclusively to gay people!” It also claims Lightfoot endorses the nonexistent Gay Equality Act, which seeks to ensure churches abide by "gay marriage laws” and public restrooms are “gender free.”

The flyers surfaced Sunday on parked cars outside of African-American churches, NBC 5 reported.

While no “Gay Equality Act” has been introduced in Illinois, Democrats in Congress reintroduced last week the Equality Act, a federal bill that would amend existing civil rights legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, education, federal programs, credit and public accommodations.

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Lightfoot’s opponent in the Chicago mayoral race, fellow Democrat Toni Preckwinkle, was among those who denounced the flyers.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms any rhetoric or actions from any person or group that suggests prejudice or discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community,” Preckwinkle said in a statement to NBC News. “There is no place in Chicago, or any society, for intolerance of our LGBTQ community.”

Bishop Larry Trotter, the senior pastor of Chicago's Sweet Holy Spirit Church, who lobbied against same-sex marriage in Illinois in 2013, also condemned the flyers, saying they are “not reflective of any black church in Chicago.”

Trotter also announced Sunday that he is endorsing Lightfoot, noting she’s “running for mayor " and "not for bishop.”

Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, now the president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, spoke out against the flyers.

“Homophobic forces attempting to derail Lori’s historic candidacy are using the politics of hate and fear to mobilize anti-LGBTQ voters,” Parker, an out lesbian, said in a statement. “The attack flyers are infused with mischaracterizations of the LGBTQ community and the laws that protect them."

The Victory Fund, which is dedicated to increasing the number of LGBTQ elected officials, has endorsed Lightfoot.

In a statement shared with NBC News, Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department, said "the language in the flyers is detestable and has no place in Chicago." While no police report has been filed, Guglielmi said the department will continue to monitor the situation.

Despite the flyers' divisive message, Lightfoot told NBC 5 that the election is bringing people together.

“What I’m seeing out there in the streets and what I’m hearing from people is a broad coalition of people who are coming together, excited about this election,” she said.

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