“They decided that an unborn baby is too offensive,” said Martin Kelley, co-founder of Palatine Area Catholics Respect Life. “It’s an ultrasound photo. It’s not a picture of an aborted baby.”
The banner displays a picture of the unborn baby and an elderly woman with the words “Palatine Area Catholics Respect Life ... from Conception ‘til Natural Death.”
The group marched with the banner last year, but this year organizers informed them they would not be allowed unless they removed or changed the picture of the unborn baby.
“Changing the photo would defeat the whole purpose of expressing our point of view that life does begin at conception,” said Kelley. “It’s a stand on principle. It kind of defeats the purpose to have a newborn baby or a three-year old. It was necessary for our message.”
The parade will take place July 2 and organizers have already approved approximately 80 groups for participation. It is sponsored and organized by Palatine Jaycees, a private service organization.
“The Respect Life Group was denied participation in the Hometown Fest parade because [they] refused to work with festival organizers regarding their display materials,” the Jaycees said in a statement. “Unlike other groups who fully cooperate regarding display materials, the Respect Life Group refused to make any changes to the banner or even have a discussion about it.”
While the Jaycees maintain they are a non-political organization that does not reject the banner for its message, they retained the right to refuse admission based on the manner in which the message was displayed. According to the Jaycees’ board of directors, the banner was offensive.
He said the Jaycees have utilized a double standard in censoring the pro-life message. The organizers have permitted other organizations, he added, such as Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays, while not allowing the pro-life group.