An online petition launched this week is calling on Cardinal Francis George, the Chicago Archbishop, to resign from his post following a comment he made on a Chicago news station that compared LGBT rights advocates to the Ku Klux Klan.
Cardinal George's controversial comment was made Sunday during an interview on Fox Chicago concerning Chicago's Gay Pride Parade. Addressing a local parish's complaints that the parade passing by its church on a newly changed route would force it to cancel its Sunday services he said, "You don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism."
When asked by the Fox host that his comparison was "a little strong," Cardinal George stood by it.
"It is, but you take a look at the rhetoric," he continued. "The rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan, the rhetoric of some of the gay liberation people. Who is the enemy? Who is the enemy? The Catholic Church."
The petition, launched Friday by national LGBT advocacy group Truth Wins Out, has already garnered 2,600 signatures.
"It is outrageous that Cardinal George would place law-abiding, peaceful citizens in the same category as a notoriously violent hate group," Truth Wins Out's executive director Wayne Besen said in a statement. "George's resignation is his only road to redemption and if he has a shred of dignity and a sliver of class he will immediately step down."
Other LGBT advocates have said the Cardinal's statement was out of line and joined in the call for his resignation.
In an editorial posted Friday, Windy City Times publisher and executive editor Tracy Baim wrote that the cardinal "has gone too far, and he should graciously apologize, and step down from his post."
"At this point, an apology is not enough," Baim wrote. "George has proven he is out of touch with the progress of the LGBT movement in this city and country, and he should pass the torch to a new generation of Catholic leadership."
LGBT groups are not the only ones who have spoken out against the Cardinal's comment.
The Rev. Eric Lee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference executive director, also condemned the statement.
"I have spent most of my adult life engaged in the civil rights struggle for African American people who have been terrorized by racist Klan violence," Lee said. "I am insulted by the comparison of the Klan to the current LGBT movement. When we distort the history of terror for cheap political aims, we only inflict pain on those whose lives have been scarred by the Klan."
A spokeswoman for the Chicago Archdiocese responded to the controversy, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, and said, "Whether it was the best choice of analogy I don't know. Taken out of context the meaning can be misinterpreted. ... I would suggest people read the whole interview."