State Rep. Larry McKeon has one thing to say to Equality Illinois Political Director Rick Garcia about the gay members of the state's hate-crimes commission sticking together: Not so fast.
A March 15 Windy City Times item on the continuing fallout regarding embattled hate-crimes commissioner Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad mentioned that, in a voicemail message, Garcia declared that all of the gay members of the commission—a group that includes State Rep. Larry McKeon, Shannon Sullivan of the Coalition for Education on Sexual Orientation, Laura McAlpine of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health and himself—plan on remaining on the board.
However, McKeon e-mailed Windy City Times, stating that 'Rick Garcia does not speak for me.' In the missive, the state representative declared that he has 'not made a decision to resign from the Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes at this time.' He also described Muhammad's behavior as 'inappropriate' and commented that Garcia's comments 'indicate that he does not understand the significance of Muhammad's inappropriate behavior.' McKeon added that he planned to meet with Gov. Rod Blagojevich to express his disappointment with the whole issue.
McKeon's position aligns him with Stonewall Democrats Illinois, an LGBT political organization that released a statement calling for Muhammad to step down in light of her being an advisor to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has been accused of making anti-Semitic, -LGBT and -white comments. Organization president Rick Ingram stated that 'there is no room on the Commission for anyone who represents a position advocating hate.'
However, Garcia told Windy City Times that he is flummoxed by McKeon's message. 'I don't know what the f--- he is talking about,' Garcia declared. 'I've never presumed to speak for him and I don't want to speak for him; he told me that he was not resigning. Any suggestion that he had that I was speaking for him is delusional.' He also reiterated his support for Muhammad and emphasized that he, Sullivan and McAlpine plan to remain on the commission.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, Catholic Citizens of Illinois and Repubican gubernatorial candidate Jim Oberweis have called for Garcia's removal from the commission because the activist allegedly called Cardinal Francis George 'a bigot.' 'We are offended by Garcia's frequent attacks on the Catholic Church and all Christians for their belief in biblical values,' organization president Mary Anne Hackett stated.
However, Garcia said that the attack is actually based on a remark that is two years old and questions why it is being brought up now. 'These are the same right-wing people who brought us [ 2004 Republican U.S. Senate candidate ] Alan Keyes,' he said. 'This call to step down is really about Oberweis demonizing the gay community.'
Garcia also said that the right wing is attacking him because of past statements about Oberweis, mentioning that the divorced dairy magnate and political candidate joined the Illinois Family Institute in support of that group's Protect Marriage Institute. In January, 2006, Garcia issued a release asking 'If Oberweis is so concerned about protecting marriage, why didn't he protect his own?'