A pro-life group is out of the Hometown Fest July 2 parade after refusing to drop a banner that included a picture of a live fetus.
"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 also includes a photo of an elderly woman.
Hometown Fest is organized by the Palatine Jaycees, a private organization. Jaycees officials said the pro-life group was rejected because they refused to work with parade organizers, not because of their message.
"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 prepared 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."
Jaycees officials said that if the group dropped the banner, they might still be able to march in the parade. So far, there are about 80 entrants in the parade. The Jaycees do not receive funds from the village to organize Hometown Fest, although the village supports the parade by providing police officers for crowd control.
Jaycees public relations chairman Bill Pohlman said festival organizers have a fine line to walk when it comes to parades and politics.
"What is offensive is subjective," said Pohlman, who also is an unpaid blogger on Palatine Patch. "Everyone's trying to promote their message. What crosses the line? The event organizers felt this crossed the line."
The Jaycees are a nonprofit, leadership training organization for 21 to 40 year olds. The nonpartisan, international organization seeks to develop community leaders through activities such as Hometown Fest.
Kelley was a Jaycees member until the banner issue and has resigned from the organization. He said changing the banner was not an option.
"It's a stand on principle," Kelley said. "[Catholics] believe that life begins at conception. It kind of defeats the purpose to have a newborn baby or a three-year old. It was necessary for our message."
Kelley said the banner was used in last year's Hometown Fest parade. In a mass e-mail, Kelley asserted politics was behind the decision, blaming Jaycees President Chrissy Trilling-Raices for it.
Kelley stated while a picture of an unborn baby was deemed inappropriate, the Jaycees are allowing "Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to walk in the parade. Apparently she (Trilling-Raices) does not feel that it is inappropriate to subject families to have to explain to their young children about homosexuality. We believe this is a double-standard with the attempt to silence the pro-life message."
Pohlman said Trilling-Raices did not make the decision to reject the parade application. He said the decision was discussed and made by the Jaycees board and the event chairman.
Pohlman said there have been issues with materials other groups intended to hand out or display, however, those groups worked with the Jaycees.
"[Parade organizers] made suggestions, but they [Palatine Area Catholics Respect Life] refused to bend in any way, shape or form," Pohlman said.