LGBT-rights activists have issued their concerns about a minister with an anti-gay reputation who 26th Ward Alderman Billy Ocasio has recommended to replace him.
After Ocasio announced that he will leave Chicago's city council to become a senior advisor to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, he asked Mayor Richard Daley that the Rev. Wilfredo De Jesús replace him.
De Jesús is pastor of New Life Covenant Church, 1147 N. Western ( office: 2704 W. North ) —an institution that has taken a hard line against same-sex relationships. According to a position paper on gays and lesbians by the Assemblies of God—with which the church is affiliated—" [ h ] omosexual behavior is sin because it is disobedient to scriptural teachings" and " [ h ] omosexual behavior is sin because it is contrary to God's created order for the family and human relationships," among other beliefs. In addition, De Jesús commented in an October 2008 Christianity Today article that "opposing abortion and homosexuality [ had ] been the paramount moral issues for him" until the treatment of illegal immigrants captured his attention.
In addition, Jessica Pupovac ( of the site Pupovac Reports ) reported that some local LGBT-rights activists named De Jesús as the main reason the plans involving a proposed Pride Campus—a school that would have been populated by LGBTA students—did not develop. When asked by Pupovac about the accusation, De Jesús responded, "What about that girl who is a virgin, who is being harassed by lesbians and guys to have sex, and yet you're going to build a gay school? It's not fair."
Not surprisingly, many gay-rights advocates are against De Jesús' possible appointment to city council. Kit Duffy—a liaison to the LGBT community under former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington—stated in a letter to Windy City Times that De Jesús "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 GLBT rights and doing away with a woman's right to choose. If appointed to the [ c ] ouncil he will undoubtedly seek to reopen civil rights and other legislation currently in effect, which we fought long and hard to pass."
In an e-mail, the board of the Association of Latino Men for Action ( ALMA ) —a group for gay, bisexual and questioning Latinos—stated, in part, that the organization "has concerns with [ De Jesús' ] appointment, given what we have heard to be his public views on LGBTQ issues" and that " [ w ] e would welcome any opportunity to hear directly from any candidates being considered or considering being the next Alderman of the 26th Ward."
Equality Illinois Political Director Rick Garcia said that De Jesús contacted him to meet a couple of months ago; however, scheduling conflicts have prevented them from setting up a meeting. Garcia added, though, that the two are going to meet within days. "I have some questions about him, so I intend on meeting with him sooner than later," Garcia said.
Windy City Times attempted to contact Ocasio, De Jesús and Daley's office, but no one responded before Windy City Times' deadline.