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Remarks from Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Gay Games VII Opening Ceremony, July 15, 2006, Soldier Field

This article shared 3739 times since Wed Aug 16, 2006
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Mayor Daley at the Opening Ceremony. Photo by Steve Becker



On behalf of all the people of Chicago, I'm delighted to welcome you to the seventh Gay Games.

I want to acknowledge the co-chairs of the Chicago Games, Suzanne Arnold and Sam Coady [ and ] Vice Co-Chairs Tracy Baim and Kevin Boyer, as well as their staff and all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make these games a reality.

I would also like to thank the Federation of Gay Games for choosing Chicago as the 2006 host city and for carrying on the vision of Tom Waddell. Chicago is pleased and honored to have been selected to host this historic event, and you could not have chosen a more appropriate site.

Our athletic facilities are second to none. Our entertainment, shopping and cultural attractions are world-class—so there will be plenty to keep you occupied when you're not at the games.

And most important, gay men and women are welcome in Chicago. Chicago combines Midwestern hospitality with big-city sophistication. We welcome everyone to our city, regardless of age, income, background, gender or sexual orientation.

We understand that diversity makes our city strong, dynamic and exciting. It attracts visitors and new residents, who would much rather live in a vibrant city like Chicago than in a place where everyone looks and acts alike.

Chicago is composed of many distinct communities, based on ethnicity, religion, neighborhoods, sexual orientation or other common interests. Each has its own identity, but they all get along with each other and work together for the good of the entire city.

More than 100 languages are spoken in our city. There are 26 ethnic groups in Chicago that have at least 25,000 members each. We have distinctive neighborhoods, a multitude of religions and a variety of lifestyles.

And we're fortunate to have a very large and active gay and lesbian community.

If you were here three weeks ago, you saw 400,000 people turn out—in the rain—for the annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade, one of the largest in the nation.

These were people of all ages and incomes, and from all walks of life. The gay and lesbian community is made up of our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters. They're mothers and fathers, doctors and school teachers, bankers and factory workers. And, as we're about to see, many of them are pretty good athletes, as well.

I'm proud that Chicago has been in the forefront when it comes to meeting the needs and aspirations of the members of the gay and lesbian community. We provide domestic partnership benefits to city employees and we outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

With substantial city financial assistance, we're constructing the Center on Halsted, the first community center of its kind in the Midwest for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. I'm proud to be honorary chairperson of its capital campaign, along with Billie Jean King.

Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have contributed to Chicago in every imaginable way—in business, education, the arts and neighborhood development. They deserve to have the city of Chicago standing on their side, and it will continue to do so, as long as I am mayor.

Unfortunately, not every place is as open and welcoming as Chicago. In various countries around the world, gays and lesbians still encounter violence, police harassment, censorship and discrimination. In this country, many states—and even the federal government—continue to propose anti-gay legislation because politicians consider it an easy way to win votes and divert attention from more critical issues.

So there's a lot of work to be done before gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people enjoy all the rights afforded to the rest of society.

And as we move forward, let's work to get the entire world to adhere to the principles of the Gay Games: participation, inclusion and personal best.

The Gay Games are designed to instill pride in the LGBT community, but they're also open to everyone.

Pride in community and openness to all. That's what your community stands for—and that's what the city of Chicago stands for, as well.

Enjoy the games and have a wonderful time in Chicago.

Letter to the Editor

The following was written in response to the recent primary defeat of incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman in Connecticut.

Political analysts tend to over-interpret the results of isolated elections.

The election was about one issue: the war in Iraq. Mr. Lieberman was an otherwise highly regarded, well-ensconced Democratic incumbent, who would never have faced a meaningful primary challenge had he not vocally supported President George W. Bush's invasion in 2003, continued to defend the war in principle and opposed adopting a timetable for withdrawal. Mr. [ Ned ] Lamont, a preppy political novice from the wealthy enclave of Greenwich, got the idea to run last year when something he read in the Wall Street Journal made him gag on his breakfast. It was a hopeful analysis of Iraq by Mr. Lieberman.

The Democrats were in spectacular disarray—not least over Iraq. But the Bush White House and Republican-controlled Congress are now widely seen as incompetent and indolent, enough for the Democrats ( just possibly ) to win big in November.

Mr. Lieberman claimed to have fallen victim to 'the old politics of partisan polarization'. But that rather ignores the 'with us or against us' nature of American politics in the era of culture wars. The senator's bipartisan support for the foreign policy of president George W. Bush was gradually undermined by the willful manipulation of security issues and Iraq for partisan gain by the White House and its supporters.

The danger for the Republicans is that this perception extends well beyond the Democrats. Indeed, it is often most forcefully articulated from within its own ranks by figures such as Sen. Chuck Hagel, the decorated Vietnam veteran.

But recent polls show that Democrats are more motivated and energized than their opponents. One this week, for The Washington Post and ABC News, positions the Democrats almost exactly where the Republicans were in mid-1994—the last time both houses of Congress changed hands—revealing deep hostility towards incumbents.

In the wake of the Lieberman defeat, the Democrats will have to withstand a predictable onslaught from Bush strategists such as Karl Rove—with help of right-wing media—Fox News and newspapers like the Chicago Tribune in their editorials—who will paint a lurid picture of a radical left-turn by patrician Yankees who will 'cut and run' from the fight in Iraq.

Although fuelled by Iraq, the Lamont victory was built not so much around the left as old money and new media. Nonetheless, as so many leading Democrats waffle and weave around most of the big issues from Iraq to the Bush tax cuts, not even their supporters are sure what the party stands for.

The Democrats now have the chance to rectify that. They must persuade Americans they can strengthen the economy in ways that share its benefits more broadly, and that they are competent to take charge of security and rebuild U.S. standing in the world.

Carlos Mock, Chicago

This article shared 3739 times since Wed Aug 16, 2006
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