EI Says Pride Celebrations Must Be Joined by Action

Equality Illinois Press Release
 

As Pride Month Begins,
Equality Illinois Says Celebrations Must Be Joined by Action

in Memory of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting Victims

CHICAGO (June 1, 2017)–As Pride Month began one year ago we were looking ahead to joyous celebrations. Then on June 12, 2016 the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was targeted for a vicious hate crime resulting in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

“Pride Months will always be changed; we must never forget the 49 innocent lives, overwhelmingly Latinx, LGBTQ young people, taken away from us and from their friends and families. We encourage everyone to take time this month, at a community event or in your heart, to contemplate the lives we lost,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s LGBTQ civil rights organization.

“At Equality Illinois, we were even more determined to honor them with action by successfully advancing a pro-LGBTQ agenda in Springfield and spreading our message of LGBTQ civil rights to every corner of Illinois. On the national level, we are working with our congressional delegation against the challenges from an administration that seems determined to ignore us at best, and force us back into the closet, at worst. THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN!” Johnson said.

“So, it is important to be visible during Pride 2017, to celebrate, yes, and to commemorate and to challenge the status quo. Because when we are visible, we are powerful.”

Equality Illinois’ advocacy, working in coalitions with other organizations and aided by advocacy from LGBTQ Illinoisans and allies, helped us score some major legislative victories this spring.

Sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner were HB 1785, modernizing how transgender Illinoisans correct the gender marker on their birth certificates; SB 1670, encouraging the inclusion of LGBTQ Illinoisans in public service; and SB 1761, disallowing so-called gay- or trans-panic defenses in murder cases.

Other significant measures supported by Equality Illinois also passed: HB 40 protects women’s reproductive rights in the state, HB 3711 strengthens the state’s Hate Crimes Law, and SB 889 prohibits discrimination in picking a jury in the same way federal jury service is protected.

“We call on Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign all these important pieces of legislation that advance civil rights and equality throughout Illinois,” Johnson said.

Numerous events during Pride Month celebrate the vibrancy of Illinois’ diverse LGBTQ communities, commemorate the lives of the Pulse victims and challenge the policies of the Trump administration that seek to roll back advances in civil rights.

Equality Illinois starts on Sunday, June 4 with our Pride Kickoff Brunch in Chicago. Illinois Comptroller​ Susana A. Mendoza​, an advocate for LGBTQ Illinoisans, will join us as guest speaker. At the brunch, we will honor Kelly Suzanne Saulsberry, Director of Policy & Outreach for the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, with the 2017 Community Pride Award.

On Sunday, June 11 at 11am, Equality Illinois will participate in the Chicago Equality Rally in the city’s Andersonville neighborhood, being held in solidarity with the National Equality March on Washington D.C.

A Candle Lighting Vigil and Sunset Bell Toll honoring each life taken at the Pulse shootings in Orlando, Florida is scheduled at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., Chicago on Monday, June 12, the one-year anniversary. Equality Illinois is a sponsor of the commemoration.

Equality Illinois will also participate in two service days on June 15 and June 24 at Cradles to Crayons’ The Giving Factory on Chicago’s northwest side to show support for kids in need. Volunteers will inspect, sort, and package all new and like-new donations into customized “KidPacks.”

You can find more details of these and other Pride events involving Equality Illinois at equalityillinois.org/events.