Progressive groups protest against Harold

Erika Harold, candidate for attorney general, pledged to uphold state law and protect all Illinoisans against discrimination

 Members of various progressive groups protested outside Erika Harold’s speech in Chicago as what they described as a “human rainbow.” (One Illinois/Ted Cox0

Members of various progressive groups protested outside Erika Harold’s speech in Chicago as what they described as a “human rainbow.” (One Illinois/Ted Cox0

By Ted Cox

A rainbow-colored array of progressive groups protested against candidate for attorney general Erika Harold Thursday ahead of her appearance at the City Club of Chicago.

“Erika Harold is a danger to women and she’s a danger to Illinois,” said Julie Lynn, of Planned Parenthood Illinois. “She has dangerous policies. She has dangerous rhetoric. She has dangerous statements from the past and from the present.”

Michael Ziri, of Equality Illinois, pointed out that Harold ran for Congress in 2014 backing a constitutional amendment against marriage equality and had otherwise not shown support for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people, and queers. “Erika Harold has a record of opposition to LGBTQ equality,” Ziri said. “It’s clear that she does not share our values — values of inclusion and tolerance and equality and fairness that have made Illinois the strongest state in the Midwest for LGBTQ rights.”

Planned Parenthood and Equality Illinois were joined by members of Moms Demand Action, the Sierra Club, NARAL, the Service Employees International Union, and other progressive groups in forming what they called a “human rainbow” outside Harold’s luncheon appearance at Maggiano’s Banquets in downtown Chicago.

After speaking for about 15 minutes to the City Club, Harold was specifically asked about abortion, LGBTQ rights, the Affordable Care Act, and Medicare and Medicaid in a question from the audience. Saying she welcomed a chance to “set the record straight,” she added, “Unfortunately, this campaign season has contained a lot of false information.

“I believe that the job of the attorney general is to enforce the law and make sure that everyone is protected from discrimination,” Harold said. She added that Obamacare forbids bias against pre-existing conditions, as does Illinois law, and that she would not have joined Republican attorneys general who filed suit against the ACA.

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“I believe that the job of the attorney general is to enforce the law and make sure that everyone is protected from discrimination.”

Erika Harold

“It’s no secret that I’m pro-life,” Harold said. “But I’ve made very clear that the job of the attorney general is to enforce Illinois law and uphold that.

“I would never discriminate against any same-sex couple as it relates to adoption, as it relates to anything,” she added. “The job of the attorney general is to protect all Illinoisans against discrimination, and that’s what I would do.”

Protesters, however, worried that she was just paying lip service to their issues on the campaign trail.

“I can’t trust that she would protect the laws that exist already in Illinois,” Lynn said.

“She says she won’t seek to change marriage, because it’s settled law. The Supreme Court has decided that,” Ziri added. “But we know court decisions aren’t set in stone. Illinois marriage equality was settled in law when she advocated a constitutional amendment” against it.

Harold said, “Leadership requires vulnerability” and “our politics need more of that,” adding that she would “serve the marginalized.” She insisted she wanted to “take the politics out of the office (and) put the people’s interest first.”

But, as a specialist in commercial law, she said she wanted to “balance” the interests of consumers and utilities, and that she looked to impose “worker’s compensation reform,” to make Illinois “competitive with other states.” She added, “We want businesses to continue to create jobs here,” signaling that she would favor reforms intended to ease worker’s comp regulations on business. She cited the opioid epidemic as a pet cause, but stressed treatment without mentioning regulations on pharmaceutical firms.

She quoted President Obama quoting Martin Luther King on “the fierce urgency of now,” but she declined to reveal whether she voted for Obama. She also said she would not be joining President Trump in his campaign rally at Southern Illinois Airport on Saturday.

The luncheon was sparsely attended, with about half the usual number of tables set up for a City Club appearance.