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  WINDY CITY TIMES

PASSAGES Former Gov. Thompson dies at 84, leaves mixed LGBTQ+ legacy
2020-08-16

This article shared 3152 times since Sun Aug 16, 2020
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Former Illinois Gov. James Thompson—nicknamed "Big Jim" because of his 6' 6" frame—died Aug. 14 at age 84.

Thompson, a Republican moderate who served four terms from 1977 to 1991, was from Chicago. He later was part of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, and joined the major law firm Winston & Strawn LLP.

Although he was a member of the GOP, Thompson was seen by many as having no allegiances. As a federal prosecutor in the early 1970s, he prosecuted Democrats and Republicans.

Regarding the LGBTQ community, Thompson did not have the best relationship with the demographic. In a 2010 talk with Windy City Times, activist Jeanne Kracher said that, during the AIDS crisis, "I think people don't remember that there were discussions with [then Illinois Gov.] Jim Thompson about quarantining gays: the most heinous and repressive ways of 'How do we deal with this emerging disease and these diseased people?'" In addition, Thompson was a target of activists in the late '80s for his support of stigmatizing AIDS laws.

However, Thompson was among prominent state Republicans—including then-U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and former Gov. Jim Edgar—to stand by Illinois Republican Chair Pat Brady in 2013 when he came out in favor of marriage equality.

In a tweet, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said "Thompson, a lifetime public servant and Illinois' longest serving governor, was a bipartisan leader and passionate advocate for our state."


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