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The city of Chicago will hold its seventh annual salute to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender veterans, With Liberty and Justice For All, on Wednesday, August 5, in Richard J. Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington Street. The event, which will take place from noon to 1 PM, is a clear gesture by the city in opposition to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces. President Obama campaigned against the antigay Pentagon policy during his run for the White House but has dragged his heels on overturning it since taking office.
Guest speakers at the event include keynoter Luke Visconti, a former Navy helicopter pilot and member of the Chief of Naval Operations executive panel; former Naval submariner Steve Lorandos; and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois' 5th congressional district, a cosponsor of legislation that would repeal the antigay policy. The bill, titled "Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009" (H.R. 1283), currently has 164 co-sponsors, including Illinois Congresspersons Danny Davis, Luis Gutierrez, Phil Hare, Jesse Jackson Jr., Bobby Rush, and Jan Schakowsky.
Visconti and Quigley will be joined on stage by a number of elected officials and LGBT military veterans. The event will include a wreath-laying ceremony, and noted jazz singer Spider Saloff will perform the National Anthem.
The event, sponsored by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations' Advisory Council on Veterans’ Affairs and the CCHR Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in partnership with the Chicago chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights, is the nation's only municipally sponsored salute to LGBT veterans. For more information, contact Bill Greaves at 312-744-7911.
(An interesting footnote: Daley Plaza, where the event will take place, was the site of Chicago's first gay pride rally in 1970, which celebrated the Stonewall riots a year earlier. The rally concluded with a circle dance around the Picasso statue.)