Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus of the New Life Covenant Church in Chicago is the man selected by outgoing Alderman Billy Ocasio to replace him on the City Council, representing Chicago's 26th Ward. Gay activists are leery of this succession because De Jesus's Assemblies of God church is against homosexuality.
"I would tell [critics]: Isn't it ironic that you're asking me to be tolerant and you're intolerant to my beliefs. How is that? We already know there are differences. Let's put that to the side. What's hurting our community today? Let's focus on that."
I've never bought the old hypocritical liberals argument, which can be boiled down to, "Why are you so intolerant of my intolerance?" But if he is asking the LGBT community to take him at his word on his priorities, how about his words from an interview with Christianity Today last year, in which he said his main priorities were to oppose abortion and homosexuality, among other explicitly anti-gay sentiments expressed by the formerly Republican Rev. De Jesus in the media? Or the words he used to oppose an LGBT-friendly high school for Chicago?
Julio Rodriguez of the Association of Latino Men for Action warns, "We don't see how someone who has such a strong foundation with his church can separate his belief system [from] his public role, even though he thinks he can."
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley will get to decide whether De Jesus comes aboard. Historically, he tends to honor the wishes of departing aldermen as to who succeeds them and De Jesus's support of President Obama's campaign can't hurt his chances. But at a public event yesterday, Daley said, "The gay community is a strong community in the city of Chicago; they're part and parcel of this great city. We got a number of questionnaires, people are coming in and we're going to be interviewing them."
He has until August 1 to fill the position.