Rahm Emanuel's Budget Cuts LGBT Council

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel talks to reporters at a bowling alley in Chicago on January 24, 2011. An Illinois appellate court threw the former congressman and White House chief of staff off the ballot ruling that he did not meet the residency requirements to run for mayor of Chicago.      UPI/Brian Kersey

When Rahm Emanuel was running for mayor of Chicago, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community overwhelmingly supported the Democratic candidate, but the cheering stopped Friday when the Mayor announced his budget was dismantling the city's LGBT Advisory Council.

The council will now be merged with one on Women's Issues, combing the two into a Council on Gender and Sexuality. Gay rights advocates are calling the move disrespectful and a step backwards.

"The restructuring of the Advisory Council on LGBT Issues is just one more example of how the administration seems to not be interested in these hard fought gains," Executive Director of Illinois' The Civil Rights Agenda Anthony Martinez was quoted as saying in Chicago Pride. 

The groups are upset that in the new council, words that name sexuality, such as lesbian or gay, won't be in the council's title. Current members and their supporters are also upset that the group wasn't consulted before the budget decision was announced.

"Where is the transparency? Who is making these decisions? Why is City Hall silent with regards to process? There are all questions that deserve an answer," Lowell Jaffe, political director for The Civil Rights Agenda said in a statement quoted in Chicago Pride.

The current director, Bill Greaves, will lose his job at the start of the new year, according to a report in the Windy City. The move comes after a July budget decision to cut all city funding from the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. Before the funding slash, it was the world's only municipally-sponsored hall of fame for the movers and shakers on the LGBT world, according to a report in the Huffington Post. The mayor's office said the changes were part of a large budget restructuration needed in these shaky economic times. In a 19 percent cut to community organizations, the administration also combined the city's councils on African, Arab, Asian and Latino affairs. Previously separate, they will now be combined into an "Equity" committee.  
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