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Transparency, "Human Rights," And the 40th District

By Joseph Erbentraut in News on Oct 28, 2009 6:20PM

Photo via Laicona's campaign site
On the surface, Columbia College instructor and journalist Joe Laiacona's challenge of incumbent State Rep. Deb Mell in the 40th District's Democratic primary in Feb. doesn't seem so unusual beyond the fact that it will be the most high-profile battle between two openly gay contenders in Illinois political history. But the plot thickens once the pen name is introduced.

Joe Laiacona = Jack Rinella, long-time author of Gay Chicago Magazine's Leather Views column, addressing a myriad of issues. Under his pseudonym, he's also published a number of books including Philosophy in the Dungeon, The Master's Manual and a seminal work on nipple play, The Toybag Guide to Clips and Clamps.

Despite his background of working within the LGBT community, Laicona's campaign website is devoid of any mention of issues like same-sex marriage or other LGBT rights-related topics, compared to Mell's, which does. As he puts it, in an interview with the Windy City Times, "it's not an issue in my neighborhood ... I don't think my sexual orientation should be an issue."

And it probably shouldn't, but with Laicona taking on Blago's sister-in-law (as well as an alderman's daughter) in a race where "transparency" and "human rights" are being discussed, it seems he's going to have to address these issues eventually.