Despite some bad weather in the morning, this year's Chicago Pride Parade was as lively as ever. The Chicago Sun-Times estimated that 450,000 people turned out to celebrate gay pride and express support for gay rights.
Grand Marshal and lesbian country-music star Chely Wright was followed in the parade by dozens of politicians from all levels of government, including Governor Pat Quinn, U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Mike Quigley, Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias and a bevy of city aldermen and state senators and representatives.
Absent from the parade, among many other Republican politicians, was gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady. He was 40 miles west of the city, marching in a different parade: suburban Geneva's Swedish Days.
Brady is a social conservative who, in 2006, introduced an amendment to the Illinois constitution that would have banned gay marriage and civil unions. He also sponsored a bill that would have allowed some employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
Reporters asked Brady if he would have marched in the Pride Parade in Chicago. "I don't know," he said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "I'd have to think about it. I didn't even know the (Pride) parade was going on today. It is? We're here."
Laura Rush, communications manager for the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, described the parade as "very patriotic and very home-town." It began with a 50-foot flag marched down the city's Anderson Boulevard, which was followed by a "salute-to-the-military" float featuring servicemen and -women of all ages.
Rush estimated the parade's turnout at 70,000.
While Republicans rarely march in the Pride Parade, the last Republican candidate for governor, Judy Baar Topinka, held considerably more socially moderate views than Brady. She appeared in the parade in 2006, when she was running against then-Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Of course, she lost that race to Blagojevich, 49-40, with Green Rich Whitney winning 10 percent of the vote.
Whitney is running this year against Brady and the incumbent Quinn, who took the job over when Blagojevich was impeached early in 2009. Quinn opposes gay marriage, but has advocated for civil unions for gay couples. Whitney supports full civil rights for gays.
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