Palatine group out of parade over banner

  • The Palatine Area Catholics Respect Life organization isn't being allowed to participate in the Palatine Jaycees Hometown Fest parade July 2 because of this banner, which shows an unborn fetus.

    The Palatine Area Catholics Respect Life organization isn't being allowed to participate in the Palatine Jaycees Hometown Fest parade July 2 because of this banner, which shows an unborn fetus. Courtesy of Palatine Area Catholics Respect Life

 
 
Updated 6/13/2011 9:44 PM

A Palatine group won't be allowed to march in this year's Hometown Fest parade because its members insist on carrying the same banner they marched with last year.

The Palatine Jaycees informed the Palatine Area Catholics Respect Life organization that it won't be among the 80 or so entries participating July 2 unless it eliminates the banner which shows an image of an unborn fetus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It's a concession cofounder Martin Kelley said his group refuses to make.

"Changing the photo would defeat the whole purpose of expressing our point of view that life does begin at conception," said Kelley, an attorney from Inverness. "It's a preborn baby, not a picture of an aborted baby."

The Jaycees, a private service organization that sponsors the Fourth of July festival, didn't ban Catholics Respect Life based on what it represents, but rather because "the group refused to work with volunteers to come to a mutual agreement," the board of directors said in a prepared statement.

Other groups fully cooperate regarding display materials, the board said.

Jaycees spokesman Bill Pohlman acknowledged a mistake was made last year by allowing the group's banner. He said the image provided in the group's application was blurred and no one attempted to get a clearer copy.

It was only at the parade did event organizers see the entire banner, which shows the unborn child and an elderly woman with the words, "Palatine Area Catholics Respect Life ... from Conception til Natural Death."

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This year, Pohlman said the event chairman and entire board voted not to allow the banner because they felt it crossed a line, and only after the Jaycees worked with the group to try to reach a compromise.

"One suggestion was to change the picture to a pregnant woman, but they wouldn't budge," Pohlman said. "It became evident they wouldn't compromise in any way, shape or form."

The Jaycees said they are a nonpolitical organization that neither endorses nor rejects marchers' messages. They do, however, reserve the right to approve or deny the manner in which messages are conveyed.

In a mass email Kelley sent to various people, including the Jaycees membership roster, he said the group received standing ovations and applause for the entire parade route.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Pohlman disputed that was the case, recalling how numerous spectators personally told him how outraged and offended they were.

Kelley added that his group believes the Jaycees' decision is a double standard with the attempt to silence the "pro-life message," and said other organizations such as Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays are being allowed to walk.

He wants the vote put to the entire Jaycees membership of about 100 people.

Though the deadline has passed and the entry quota filled, Pohlman said an exception would likely be made to allow the group if it changes the banner.