Chicago mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's transition team has no LGBT people among its cochairs, but it does have a minister from an antigay religious denomination, Windy City Timesreports.
The Reverend Byron Brazier (pictured), pastor of the Apostolic Church of God on Chicago's south side, is one of the six cochairs of the team. He is "an eyebrow-raising choice," the paper reports, because his church is affiliated with the Pentecostal movement, which generally denounces homosexuality, and his father and predecessor as pastor, the late Arthur Brazier, spoke in support of amending the U.S. Constitution to ban marriage equality. Byron Brazier's views are less well-known, and he had not responded to Windy City Times' request for an interview by the time the article was published.
The Reverend Irene Monroe, a lesbian and feminist theologian, told the paper that Brazier's selection is troubling. "Why that particular church when there are so many progressive churches he can choose from?" she said. The team's makeup, she said, brought to mind President Obama's friendships with antigay religious leaders: "Rahm and Obama don't mind taking LGBT money for their campaigns and don't mind our vote, but when it comes to full-throated advocacy, they invariably either let us down or leave us waiting."
Some gay leaders were more optimistic. Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of the gay rights group Equality Illinois, said he wasn't alarmed by the lack of LGBT representation among the cochairs and looked forward to working with the team to discuss priorities for LGBT Chicagoans. His group is collaborating with the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute to identify potential LGBT appointees for the new mayor's administration. The Equality Illinois PAC had endorsed Emanuel.
Robert Kohl, cochair of an LGBT coalition that backed Emanuel's candidacy, expressed confidence that the new city administration would be inclusive. "Rahm recognizes and has always recognized the need to identify and recruit qualified LGBT candidates and he's committed to diverse hiring across all the departments," Kohl told the Times.