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Illinois Gay Group, Activist Split

Illinois Gay Group, Activist Split


Longtime Chicago and Illinois gay advocate Rick Garcia has been let go from his job as public policy director at statewide LGBT rights group Equality Illinois, Gay Chicagomagazine reports.

Gay Chicago reports that executive director Bernard Cherkasov told Garcia Thursday that the organization was severing its ties with him. Garcia, however, showed up to work Friday and was escorted from the office by Chicago police, according to the magazine.

Garcia said he may pursue litigation to get his job back. "I have been around doing this for a long, long time," he told Gay Chicago. "And I can tell you that I am not going anywhere."

Garcia had long been associated with Equality Illinois and a predecessor organization, the Illinois Federation for Human Rights, and had been involved in successful battles for gay-inclusive nondiscrimination laws in Chicago and later statewide, and most recently for civil unions for Illinois same-sex couples. He also has sometimes clashed with other activists.

Another Chicago gay publication, Windy City Times, notes that Garcia's departure "will likely send shock waves through the local LGBT community." Cherkasov confirmed to Windy City Times that he had informed board members and other Equality Illinois stakeholders Friday that Garcia is no longer with the organization. The group will begin a search for his replacement after the holidays, Cherkasov said.

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