Members of the City Council’s newly-formed LGBT Caucus say they will be a united front to preserve city services important to the LGBT community when the City starts planning next year’s budget.
The five openly gay members of the City Council officially announced the group’s formation after yesterday’s City Council meeting. They’re in the process of filing articles of incorporation with the state and say they hope to bring additional members into the fold.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44), the first openly gay aldermen elected to the City Council, first floated the idea of a new LGBT caucus after two more openly gay members, Ald. Raymond Lopez (15) and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) were elected to the City Council.
The group, which also includes Ald. Deb Mell (33) and Ald. James Cappleman (46), plans to ask for more funding for HIV prevention and housing for homeless LGBT youth. The group also wants to work with local area police commanders and Superintendent Garry McCarthy to address policing issues.
“LGBT issues are no longer a North Side issue,” Ald. Lopez said. Ald. Tunney had also joked that until now, LGBT-related issues ended up on his desk because his peers would tell constituents, “[if] it’s a gay issue, go talk to Tunney.”
Ald. Tunney will serve as caucus chairman, with Ald. Mell and Ald. Lopez serving under him as vice chair and secretary, respectively. Ald. Cappleman does not have a leadership role.
While the Caucus plans to hold another press event ahead of the annual Pride Parade, Ald. Tunney took advantage of the presser to address concerns he has about policing and crowd control. The annual celebration in Lakeview has grown ten-fold over the last decade, says Tunney, and he worries that the police department’s resources are already stretched thin. Parade organizers are planning to hire 90 off-duty cops to supplement the police presence next Saturday. There will also be extra open container checkpoints, and Ald. Tunney has asked Boystown bars to voluntarily close two hours early.