CHICAGO — On the first day of Pride Month, Chicago’s first openly gay mayor said chief among her concerns for LGBTQ people is what the Supreme Court’s pending abortion ruling could have on the community’s rights.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion overruling Roe vs. Wade was “most top of mind” because she feared it could have lasting implications on LGBTQ people, including freeing states to prohibit almost all abortions.
“The right of privacy, first recognized by the Supreme Court in Roe is really the premise for a lot of the recognition of rights in our country — not just gay marriage, but [also] striking down the sodomy laws that were so prevalent across many states,” Lightfoot said.
The Supreme Court’s ruling could set the stage to strip LGBTQ people of their right to marry, have children or pass property down from spouse to spouse, Lightfoot said.
“So the thing that’s most important for me and top of mind now is making sure that Chicago remains a city where there truly is justice for all,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot made the comments during a Wednesday meeting with a group of members and supporters of NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, a network of LGBTQ media professionals dedicated to improved representation and coverage of LGBTQ people and issues.
Topics discussed ranged from whether police should have a presence in Pride parades to the rising number of murders of trans women of color.
Efforts to ban uniformed police officers from participating in Pride parades across the country have gained traction in recent years as LGBTQ activists have called on police to reckon with their fraught history with the community.
The two groups have had a rocky past going back to and beyond New York City’s Stonewall Rebellion of 1969, which was sparked by police raids of gay bars. Local activists have criticized police for misgendering victims of anti-trans violence, and protesters at last year’s Drag March for Change demanded uniformed officers be banned from marching in Chicago’s pride festivities.
Lightfoot said police will likely continue to participate in Chicago’s annual Pride Parade, which returns June 26 after two years of COVID cancellations.
“When you think about the hundreds of participants in the annual Pride Parade, one or two police cars are going to be like a blip on the horizon,” Lightfoot said.
But LGBTQ people still have a right to demand better treatment from Chicago Police, she said.
“We can hold two thoughts at the same time,” Lightfoot said. “We want to be treated with respect [and] that’s our right, and as taxpayers, we have a right to demand that police are not victimizing us. […] But also [we can] recognize that there are times when violence flares that we need the police to respond and to investigate and find the people who are responsible for victimizing us.”
The mayor said she’s heard from transgender community members, especially trans women, who say they don’t feel police take them seriously when they go to report crimes.
“I think that’s one of the biggest challenges that I have heard from the trans community,” Lightfoot said.
That issue has been compounded by the rise in murders of Black transgender women across the Chicago area. Last year, which saw at least five Black trans women killed in the Chicago area, was the deadliest year on record for trans people.
Lightfoot said the city is “pushing the police department to treat trans women’s violence against them … in exactly the same way they would for the straight community, and not ignoring this and just saying, ‘well, dangerous lifestyle.'”
“When something happens, we need to make sure that the police are as diligent in solving crimes against members of our community as they are against members of any other community,” Lightfoot said.
Editor’s note: Jake Wittich is a Chicago chapter leader for NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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