Chicago Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel names his transition team and there are no openly gay or lesbian appointments. That was not necessarily a "cause for alarm for the community" but the appointment of anti-gay mega-church pastor Rev. Byron Brazier (left) is "troubling", reports Windy City Times.
Bernard Cherkasov, chief executive director of Equality Illinois, indicated the lack of LGBT representation in Emanuel's transition team should not be a cause for alarm for the community. His organization's PAC joined a large coalition of LGBT community leaders in endorsing Emanuel's mayoral campaign last month.
"We look forward to working with the team of co-chairs to help identify the priorities for the city of Chicago, including the priorities of the LGBT community, and figure out a path to addressing them as soon as the mayor is in office," Cherkasov said.
Brazier's presence on the transition team is an eyebrow-raising choice, however. Brazier's father and the previous pastor of the Apostolic Church of God, the late Bishop Arthur, supported the Federal Marriage Amendment. Additionally, the church is affiliated with the Pentecostal movement, which generally condemns homosexuality as sinful. At press time, Brazier had not return Windy City Times' request for an interview.
Rev. Irene Monroe, coordinator of the African American Roundtable of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion, said Emanuel's selection of Brazier while not including any LGBT co-chairs was an intentional, and troubling, choice. "It is a great concern," Monroe said. "Why that particular church when there are so many progressive churches he can choose from? Monroe added Emanuel's choice reminded her of President Obama's friendship with some anti-gay religious leaders.
The Apostolic Church of God is one of the city's largest and most prominent mega-churches. The church campus includes a television studio.
The Apostolic Church is a fundamentalist, charismatic branch of the Pentecostal movement that views homosexuality as sinful. The churches are overwhelming hostile to gays and gay rights, but have a long history in the Black community of attracting and being home to many Black gay youth and gay men. Gay members have been encouraged to pray, speak in tongues or even more.
Chicago's LGBT community was generally very supportive of Emanuel. Much of its leadership endorsed the mayor-elect. Can't say this news shocking in the least, tho.