Equality Illinois, other LGBTQ champions, respond to Trump transgender student policy

February 23, 2017

Illinois organizations fighting for the civil rights of LGBTQ Illinoisans respond at a news conference to President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind Department of Education and Department of Justice guidance clarifying the civil rights of transgender students. Groups speaking include Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal – Midwest Regional Office, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance and ACLU of Illinois. (Speakers begin at about 5:45 mark.)

“To our transgender youth throughout the state of Illinois, we want you to know on behalf of all of our stakeholders at Equality Illinois, our champions, and our allies, you are beautiful, you are brave, and you are strong. We honor you and we see you. We will fight for you and support you wherever we can,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.


Equality Illinois Condemns Trump Administration’s Anti-Transgender Policy

February 22, 2017

Equality Illinois condemns the decision of the Trump administration to tear up the 2016 federal guidance protecting the civil rights and equal treatment of transgender youth in our public schools.

“We are outraged the Trump Administration would choose to target transgender children for discrimination. Rescinding the guidance letter sends a terrible message and invites personal bias to flourish in our public schools,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.

Equality Illinois reminds Illinois school districts that they should not feel free to adopt discriminatory policies despite the federal action. Title IX of the federal education law still protects transgender students, as most courts have agreed, and Illinois law prohibits discrimination in public places.



Equality Illinois Urges Congress to Protect Transgender Students

February 22, 2017

With the Trump administration reportedly poised to act against transgender students, Equality Illinois is calling on Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Tammy Duckworth and Illinois House members to stand against discrimination in our schools.

In a letter sent to the state’s congressional delegation, Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson says that the proposed rescinding of the federal guidance that transgender students should be treated the same as fellow students “sends a terrible message and invites personal bias to flourish” in our schools.

Members of Congress should demand that the 2016 policy of fairness and equality remain in force, Johnson says.



Legislative Agenda Advances LGBTQ Civil Rights

February 13, 2017

Equality Illinois announces its 2017 legislative agenda, a package of bills to advance the civil rights protections of LGBTQ Illinoisans in the criminal justice system, improve representation on public boards and commissions and assist transgender Illinoisans.

Our robust agenda includes banning so-called “gay panic defense” and ”trans panic defense” in murder cases, ensuring non-discrimination in jury service, increasing LGBTQ participation on scores of state boards, and modernizing birth certificate corrections, which would aid transgender Illinoisans.

“With the rights of transgender Americans, LGBTQ immigrants, Muslims, and women already under attack by the Trump Administration, we at Equality Illinois know that it is incumbent upon the State of Illinois to continue its progress as a truly welcoming and affirming place for all people, including LGBTQ Illinoisans,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.



Call to Action Issued at Equality Illinois Gala

February 8, 2017

“We live in scary times,” Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson told the crowd Saturday night at his first gala as CEO.

And with that preamble, Johnson issued a call to action for the 1,200 people at the Equality Illinois 2017 Gala and the millions of other Illinoisans who support justice, fairness, and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people and also for everyone marginalized by the rhetoric and actions of the new administration in Washington.

‘We will play our role, and we will play it vigorously,” Johnson promised, committing Equality Illinois to an aggressive agenda focusing on that will help make “Illinois more fair for LGBTQ people in places our stakeholders tell us they are hurting the most–in schools, in their access to health care, and in the criminal justice system.”



Gala Celebrants Send Messages About LGBTQ Equality

February 5, 2017

From a U.S. senator to gala celebrants to volunteers, the Equality Illinois 2017 Gala Saturday night was filled with love for LGBTQ Americans and the many communities we intersect that have come under attack from the new administration, including refugees and immigrants, women, and people from all races, nationalities and religions.

Thank you to everyone for a fabulous evening, made even more exciting by the messages you shared.

As Senator Tammy Duckworth wrote, “I showed up at the #EIGala tonight because LGBTQ rights R Human Rights! (also a great party!)”



Excitement Building for Equality Illinois Gala Saturday Night

February 3, 2017

The excitement is building for the Equality Illinois 2017 Gala on Saturday night at the Hilton Chicago Hotel. You can still join the fun by clicking the link to purchase tickets today.

The important work of Equality Illinois advocating for the civil rights of LGBTQ Illinoisans is funded by events such as the gala.

When we talk to a state legislator, communicate with a member of Congress, train correctional officers, educate employers about inclusive work places and do many more things fighting for the rights of LGBTQ Illinoisans, we thank everyone who has contributed, whether it is through the gala or donating a few dollars or giving of their time.



New Birth Certificate Law Would Aid Transgender Illinoisans

February 1, 2017

State Rep. Greg Harris has introduced legislation to modernize the state’s birth certificate law to allow transgender Illinoisans to correct the gender marker on their birth certificate without surgery.

Consistent with modern medical standards, the bill recognizes that people who are transgender and intersex should make their own decisions about the most appropriate course of treatment for their transition.

Ask your state representative to support House Bill 1785. The bill is supported by the ACLU of Illinois, Lambda Legal, Howard Brown Health, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and Illinois Safe Schools Alliance.


Questions Remain As Trump Retains LGBTQ Workers’ Rights

January 31, 2017

Equality Illinois statement from Brian C. Johnson, CEO:

President Trump’s continuation of LGBTQ federal and contractor workers’ rights leaves many concerning, unanswered questions.

We are deeply aware of the many ways the Trump administration could still roll back equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans. And we, as advocates for the LGBTQ community, stand with so many other groups, including immigrants, refugees, Muslim Americans, and women.



Gala to Offer Vision for LGBTQ Rights During Challenging Times

January 31, 2017

The Equality Illinois 2017 Gala this Saturday will feature individuals who have benefited from the work of the state’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, recognize those who have fought for equal rights and cared for our community, and offer a vision for the ongoing fight to improve the lived equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Illinoisans.

More than 1,200 community members, community leaders, dignitaries, and supporters, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth and other elected officials, plan to attend the Gala, which is annually the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ formal celebration, on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at the Hilton Chicago. Some of the world’s most recognizable corporate and brand names are among the sponsors of the gala.




All Students Should Be Affirmed

January 29, 2017

A statewide coalition of organizations that work with LGBTQ Illinoisans is calling on the Illinois General Assembly to reject discriminatory legislation that would isolate and stigmatize transgender and gender non-conforming youth by forcing them to use separate restrooms and locker rooms from their peers in schools.

House Bill 664 is sponsored by State Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) and is similar to a bill he introduced in the previous session of the General Assembly.

We are resolved that Illinois will stand firm for treating transgender and gender non-conforming students with dignity and ensuring that our schools are affirming environments that respect all students.



Inauguration Day

January 20, 2017

On this Inauguration Day, LGBTQ civil rights protections should not be at risk with the change in administrations, but that’s the reality we face.

Equality Illinois, working with our supporters in Congress and allied organizations fighting for equality and justice, will resist at every turn.

Stay abreast of our work here on our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Also, sign up for email updates here.


Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 16, 2017

King Day 2017

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, there is no more fitting thought at this time in our history than the inscription written on the side of his memorial in Washington, DC: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” Equality Illinois joins the nation today in pausing to remember Dr. King.


New Attempt to Attack LGBTQ Illinoisans

January 12, 2017

License to Discriminate Bill 2017 V2Equality Illinois is denouncing a new attempt by anti-LGBTQ forces in the Illinois General Assembly to discriminate against same-sex married couples.

Legislation introduced in the Illinois Senate would establish a license to discriminate for individuals, organizations, non-profits, and businesses who refuse to serve LGBTQ people. If it became law, Senate Bill 64 would neutralize the state’s civil rights protections for LGBTQ people by effectively prohibiting enforcement of those standards.

“SB 64 is an assault on our shared Illinois values of fairness, justice, and equality,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. “SB 64 is not about religious freedom.”



On the case as new General Assembly opens

January 11, 2017

springfield-2017As the 100th Illinois General Assembly convenes its two-year session on Wednesday, Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson and Director of Public Policy Michael Ziri are on the case in Springfield representing LGBTQ Illinoisans.

Brian and Mike are working with our legislative allies and alongside partner organizations to make sure no pernicious bills become law and to fight for fair, equal and just treatment for all Illinoisans.

Stay updated about Equality Illinois’ advocacy work on Facebook or by bookmarking this website


Thank you, Mr. President

January 10, 2017


As President Obama returns home to Chicago to give his farewell address tonight, we in Illinois’ LGBTQ community reflect back to his early political days, when he attended events such as the Equality Illinois 2004 gala and listened and learned about the challenges we face.

From this two-way conversation that continued through the President’s two terms in office came the most pro-LGBTQ administration in the nation’s history.

The list of accomplishments by President Obama and Vice President Biden is long. The place to start is that they held LGBTQ Americans in their hearts and included us in their vision of a just and equal America. From that premise flowed the many actions, policies, appointments, and overall leadership that gave us hope. There was always an open door for Equality Illinois; we were frequent guests at White House events and participated in many conversations about advancing LGBTQ rights.

There’s only one more thing to say, and that is, THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT.



Join the excitement at the Equality Illinois 2017 Gala

January 4, 2017

We’ve entered into a new year and are excited about many new things, such as our 2017 Equality Illinois Gala taking place in just ONE MONTH from today! Join us, commemorate with us, and help us take equal rights for #LGBTQ Illinoisans to a new and exciting level. To get excited, watch the video below. To get REAL excited, purchase your tickets today.



(Pictures of 2016 gala courtesy of Mystic Images Photography.)



January 3, 2017

donations1In the aftermath of the election, so many in the LGBTQ community were at a loss. Equality Illinois suggested deepening our commitment to building bridges and not putting up walls by publicly and proudly supporting groups most under attack by the Trump campaign rhetoric. We established donation pages so that the LGBTQ community of Illinois could stand up with a consolidated voice in support of immigrants, Muslims, and victims of sexual assault.

Today we are pleased to announce that because of your generosity, we are sending checks of more than $1,000 each to the Council on American Islamic Relations of Chicago,  the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. By standing up together as one community of LGBTQ stakeholders and allies with communities who have been under attack, we are sending a strong signal that we believe America is great when all Americans are valued.

Thank you to everyone who donated.


Happy New Year from Equality Illinois

January 1, 2017


Equality Illinois wishes you a happy, healthy, safe and equal 2017.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. suggested, we acknowledge our disappointments as the new year begins, but we never lose our hope, which is fueled by our determination to fight for our rights.


“We will resist” LGBTQ rights rollbacks

December 30, 2016


Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson writes in a column in The Chicago Sun-Times that “we will resist at every turn” promised attempts by incoming Trump administration officials and the Republican majorities in Congress to roll back LGBTQ rights.

“While the threat of immediate and far reaching policy shifts suggest darker years for the LGBTQ community, it is the elevation of virulent anti-LGBTQ bullies to national leadership positions that causes many LGBTQ Illinoisans the greatest alarm,” Johnson says.

It is important that the community hear from Equality Illinois that we will not retreat and that we will work with our many allies in Congress “to try to block or mitigate the worst inclinations of the incoming administration and Congress.” Read Brian’s full column in the Sun-Times.



December 25, 2016



Stand up to anti-LGBTQ policies

December 22, 2016

We can’t sugarcoat this. Anti-discrimination gains LGBTQ people made during the Obama Administration, in both Illinois and nationwide, are now in peril of being wiped away by the Trump-Pence Administration and Congressional Republicans.  We intend to be vigilant and fight back, and that is going to take champions like you to support Equality Illinois with a donation of $25. 

With the Trump election and Republican sweep, the anti-LGBTQ flood gates have been opened on a national scale:

· The First Amendment Defense Act, legislation that would establish a free pass for any business, agency, or person to discriminate against LGBTQ people, has significant support among Congressional Republicans. President-elect Trump has promised to sign it. Your support of $25 strengthens our voice when we call on our allies in Congress to take every means necessary to block this hateful bill.

· Vice-President-elect Mike Pence is calling for the end of Education Department guidance affirming non-discrimination protections for transgender students. Equality Illinois will use your $25 to activate our base to call on your elected officials to remind them of the lasting harm that discrimination in schools has on our youth.  

· Anti-LGBTQ groups are salivating at the prospect of President-elect Trump striking down President Obama’s executive order protecting LGBTQ people who work for thousands of federal contractors from discrimination in the workplace. Your donation will help us let Trump know that LGBTQ Illinoisans and our allies hold him responsible for protecting all Americans from discrimination.

Your civil rights protections should not be at risk with the change in administrations, but that’s the reality we face and we will resist at every turn. Now is the time to deepen your commitment to equality and justice; donate $25 today.  Everyone who donates will have their named added to our letter to the president-elect, letting him know our interests must be respected!


EI Honors Mona Noriega and Terry Cosgrove

December 12, 2016

Chicago Human Relations Commissioner Mona Noriega and Personal PAC CEO Terry Cosgrove will be the 2017 recipients of the Equality Illinois Freedom Award for their lifelong commitment to fighting for the civil rights and personal freedoms of all Illinoisans, the organization announced Monday.

The recognition will be made at the Equality Illinois 2017 Gala, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ formal celebration, to be held on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at the Hilton Chicago.

“Mona Noriega and Terry Cosgrove epitomize the criteria for the Equality Illinois Freedom Award, which was created to honor individuals and organizations who demonstrate remarkable vision, courage, and leadership in the effort to achieve full equality for LGBTQ individuals in Illinois,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.




Take our survey, please

December 11, 2016

survey-memeEquality Illinois will be adopting a new strategic plan effective July 1, 2017 that will outline our civil rights agenda for the upcoming 4 years. In order to make sure our agenda is most reflective of the diverse viewpoints of the LGBTQ and allied community in Illinois, we need your input.

Please take a few minutes to fill out the online survey. Not only will you have a chance to inform our civil rights agenda, but every week 2 people who complete the survey will win a $50 American Express gift card.



Equality Illinois Community Advisory Group

December 5, 2016

advisory-group-2016-revisedEquality Illinois is excited to announce the formation of our Community Advisory Group of 28 LGBTQ individuals and allies from across the state.

The diverse group will engage with Equality Illinois in the policy development and agenda building necessary to secure and advance LGBTQ equality, social justice, and intersectional action in Illinois.

“With members from all corners of Illinois–Carbondale to Chicago, Rock Island to Charleston–and from a wonderful diversity of backgrounds and experiences, we look forward to the Community Advisory Group informing, advising, and challenging us about opportunities for and obstacles to lived equality and inclusion in every part of Illinois,” said Mike Ziri, our Director of Public Policy.