Tracking the LGBTQ vote in the Chicago mayoral race
Leaders of Chicago's LGBTQ community are speaking out about their picks for the next mayor.
Why it matters: Strong support from the community helped propel Lori Lightfoot to victory in 2019.
- Roughly 298,000 LGBTQ adults live in the Chicago area, according to a 2021 UCLA study.
Driving the news: Last week a group of LGBTQ lawmakers and leaders criticized Paul Vallas for what they called a "quarter-century-long pattern" of anti-LGBTQ actions, dating back to his time at CPS.
- Some, like Brian Johnson of Equity Illinois, the state's largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, take issue with Vallas' social media accounts liking anti-LGBTQ sentiments online. Vallas, who has denied his involvement, blamed his staffers, and hackers.
- But Tom Tunney, the city's first openly gay alderman, defended Vallas to Axios saying, "People like Paul and myself, too, are not fully aware of social media and its consequences."
- He also called Vallas "an early, early supporter of marriage equality."
What they're saying: Cook County commissioner Brandon Johnson's platform was already drawing LGBTQ voters in February, and now they're consolidating even more for the April runoff, Windy City Times co-founder Tracy Baim, who's been covering Chicago's LGBTQ vote since 1984, tells Axios.
- "As soon as Brandon Johnson was announced as making the runoff, I noticed quite a movement of LGBTQ folks who had either supported Lightfoot or stayed neutral moving into Johnson's court," Baim said.
Between the lines: Vallas has drawn criticism for speaking at a June 2022 fundraiser for Awake Illinois, a group criticized for anti-LGBTQ stances.
- Vallas told the Reader he didn't know about Awake's "hateful rhetoric" at the time.
- Later Awake posted video showing that Vallas also spoke at their March 2021 rally, where he said their leader should run for governor.
The response: Vallas spokesperson Sally Daly told Axios, "Paul is running to be a mayor for all Chicagoans" and referred us to his LGBTQ platform, which says he would:
- Train police to better assist victims of hate crimes.
- Create "safe spaces" for LGBTQ students in schools.
- Take a "zero-tolerance" stance for businesses that discriminate against people for "sexual orientation or gender identity."
Zoom in: Johnson's platform promises to expand access to health care for LGBTQ residents, invest in preserving cultural cornerstones, and create a city Department of LGBTQ Affairs.
What we're watching: Any moves by Lightfoot or her biggest LGBTQ funder Laura Ricketts to back a candidate in the runoff.
What's next: Several LGBTQ+ organizations, including Brave Space Alliance and the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus, will hold a Brown and Black LGBTQ Mayoral Forum at Adler University on March 22, when the candidates' LGBTQ record will get further scrutiny.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the Brown and Black LGBTQ Mayoral Forum is hosted by several LGBTQ+ organizations, not the Windy City Times.
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