Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

In the Illinois Senate Race, Bedfellows Make for Strange Politics

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Usually, bringing your girlfriend to a gay bar is a bad move. I did it once, at Sidetrack Tap on Halsted Street, and got the dirtiest look I’ve ever seen in my life. But I don’t play the Straight Avenger as well as Alexi Giannoulias. He brought his fiance to Sidetrack, and got votes and money.

    This week, at a fundraiser for the LGBT community at Sidetrack, Giannoulias made a point of introducing his fiance, Tara Flocco.

    “If my fiance, who’s here tonight -- Tara, say hi to everybody. You may not have seen her, ‘cause she was a little late tonight.”

    The crowd groaned.

    “There’s a beautiful fake smile,” Giannoulias said, trying to recover. “But if my fiance and I, tomorrow, can go to City Hall, get a marriage license and have certain financial rights, certain pension rights, certain hospital rights, who are we to deny two people who love each other, who live together, who take care of each other, and just want to have those same rights?”

    Giannoulias went on to call himself “the first Illinois Senate candidate for full marriage equality,” which won him a big round of applause.

    It was brilliant. Giannoulias bonded with gays while looking super-straight. Here was a ladies’ man who nonetheless supports LGBT rights. Meanwhile, poor Mark Kirk just got divorced, and has been accused of being homosexual by a D.C. blogger who has a record of outing politicians, but he’s anathema to the gay community because he voted against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Giannoulias is managing to be both gayer and straighter than Kirk at the same time.

    Giannoulias’s upcoming wedding isn’t winning him any points from the pro-marriage, pro-family values Illinois Family Institute, though.

    “Much to the chagrin of Bible-believing Americans, President Barack Obama officially proclaimed June ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month’ month,” IFI Executive Director David E. Smith wrote. “In Chicago, as in many other big cities in America, pandering politicians and so-called ‘news’ organizations quickly line up to show their approval and support for those who identify themselves by their sexual behavior.”

    In its voter guides, the IFI lists support of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as one of its 10 key issues. What this means is the soon-to-be family man will get the support of the gays, while the divorced, allegedly gay man will get the support of the families.

    In Illinois, bedfellows make for strange politics.