‘This is not a moment of pride for anybody’: McHenry County Board scales back Pride Month resolution

The McHenry County Board recognized June as Pride Month, albeit with a scaled-back version of a proclamation.

The revised Pride Month proclamation came Tuesday evening after a county board committee considered a lengthier version last week.

The scaled-back version includes language such as “Pride Month offers a unique and significant opportunity to affirm and uphold the rights of all to freedom of choice in sexual orientation” and “Pride Month further upholds the ideal that LGBTQ+ residents of McHenry County, as all residents, have the right to live their lives with freedom from fear of harassment; exclusion; educational, housing or employment bias.”

The original proclamation included language referencing LGBTQ people serving in government and the military, as well as those who are “forced to hide their identities and live in secrecy and fear due to the criminalization of their relationships,” among other things.

Board member Terri Greeno, a Crystal Lake Republican, had taken issue last week with some of the language in the proclamation referencing employment, health care and housing discrimination in the county.

“The previous proclamation was an indictment, a prosecution and a conviction of the citizens and residents of McHenry County. That’s not the purpose of a proclamation,” Greeno said.

The revised proclamation went forward by voice vote, with a handful of members voting no.

Board member Brian Sager, a Woodstock Republican, wrote the updated version of the proclamation that focused on freedom from “overt prejudice.” Greeno said she contributed a part of the proclamation referencing “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Sager said he wasn’t trying to create a sense “of lack of unity” with the new proclamation. He said many people have a lot of strong opinions on different “social questions.”

“We have a responsibility to uphold every single individual’s right to personal freedoms,” Sager said, adding that people also have a right to have freedom from “overt prejudice” and “discrimination.”

Board member Lou Ness, a Woodstock Democrat, who is a member of the LGBTQ community and wrote last year’s Pride proclamation, took issue with the “overt prejudice” language.

“Unless you live in my skin, you can’t tell me what my experiences are,” Ness said.

Board member Kelli Wegener, a Crystal Lake Democrat, wrote the original Pride Month proclamation.

“This past week, I’ve seen comments, read emails and heard people filled with judgment, hostility and discrimination aimed at those who support Pride and/or members who are part of the LGBTQIA community,” Wegener said. “I want to stress that Pride and [the] celebration of inclusiveness is not political.”

Other Democrats on the board took issue with the new proclamation.

“Honoring Pride Month is also about recognizing that who someone loves does not determine the quality of their character or their worth as an individual,” said board member Carolyn Campbell, a Crystal Lake Democrat, adding that she was “frustrated” to get the new proclamation at the last minute.

“This is terribly sad,” said board member Theresa Meshes, a Fox River Grove Democrat. “This is not a moment of pride for anybody.”

McHenry County Board Chairman Mike Buehler said he learned about the revised proclamation on Tuesday afternoon. He said a board member had issues with the original proclamation and that the board member worked with others to come up with something. Buehler said such changes are “part of the process” and “this is not unlike any other issue.”

After the vote, public comment tended to be against the revised proclamation.

“I’m very saddened that the amendment went through. I think it’s a disgrace,” former UpRising Bakery owner Corinna Sac said. “In November, please remember to vote with Pride.”

UpRising was located in Lake in the Hills before closing last year after months of being the subject of controversy and the target of vandals over its drag brunch events.

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