Archive for the ‘Breaking News in Illinois’ Category


Bill to help transgender Illinoisans get correct birth certificates goes to governor

May 31, 2017

A measure to modernize Illinois law allowing people to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, helping transgender Illinoisans live their true lives, House Bill 1785, passed the Senate Wednesday night 32-22.

Having previously passed in the House, the bill now goes to Gov. Rauner for his signature, and we ask him to act promptly. We thank the sponsors Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Toi Hutchinson.

The bill was one of Equality Illinois legislative priorities this session, and we worked in coalition on this measure with organizations including ACLU of Illinois.


Legislature Bans LGBTQ Panic Defense

May 31, 2017

JUST NOW – Victory on a ban on LGBTQ Panic Defense!

The Illinois General Assembly completed action Wednesday on a bill that prohibits a defendant from using the sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim as a defense against a murder charge. Prohibiting the use of the so-called panic defense was an initiative of Equality Illinois, the state’s LGBTQ civil rights organization.

A bipartisan vote of 104-0 on Senate Bill 1761 in the Illinois House on Wednesday followed unanimous 41-0 Senate approval of the legislation earlier this month. The bill’s sponsors were State Sen. Daniel Biss and State Rep. Litesa E. Wallace.

Now we call on Gov. Rauner to sign the bill.


House passes birth certificate bill; urge your senator to act

May 25, 2017

The Illinois House voted Thursday afternoon to modernize the state’s birth certificate law to help transgender Illinoisans, sending the bill to the Illinois Senate.

>>>Call to Action: With less than a week until the legislature’s scheduled adjournment, your state senator needs to hear from you TODAY. Click here to send your senator a message of support for the bill, HB 1785:

HB 1785, one of Equality Illinois’ legislative priorities this session, ensures that transgender Illinoisans can obtain correct birth certificates that match their gender identity without having to first undergo expensive or unnecessary surgery. Thank you to Rep. Greg Harris for artfully leading action on the bill in the House.



LGBTQ Public Service Bill Sent to Governor

May 24, 2017

Our LGBTQ Public Service Bill passed the Illinois House on a bipartisan 95-12 vote Wednesday afternoon. The next step is the Governor’s Desk, and we are calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign the measure.

Thank you to state Rep. Will Guzzardi and state Sen. Scott Bennett for their leadership.

The legislation (SB 1670), one of Equality Illinois’ priorities during this session of the General Assembly, allows a person to voluntarily self-identify as LGBTQ when they apply for a spot on a state board or commission. Applicants already self-identify their ethnicity, gender, and disability status. The new data will be included in an existing annual report compiled by the Governor’s Office.

SB 1670 is all about data and leadership. The bill helps policymakers gather the necessary information to know whether Illinoisans of all backgrounds are inspired to lend their strengths and talents to the service of our state.


LGBTQ Public Service Bill Advances

April 27, 2017

On a strong bipartisan roll call, the Illinois Senate voted 46-4 on Thusday to help increase LGBTQ representation on a myriad of state boards and commissions. The measure now goes to the House.

Senate Bill 1670 is an Equality Illinois initiative and sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign). It is designed to encourage the development of LGBTQ Illinoisans for public service by allowing individuals applying to state boards and commissions to voluntarily self-identify as LGBTQ.

Our initiative will further ensure that gubernatorial appointees reflect the great diversity of Illinois. It will also contribute to a leadership path for LGBTQ individuals who want to engage in public service.

Read more about this bill and the Equality Illinois legislative agenda


U.S. Court Protects Workers Regardless of Their Sexual Orientation

April 4, 2017

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit made the right decision Tuesday that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in matters of employment regardless of the worker’s sexual orientation.

In Illinois, we know the power of such protections because our Human Rights Act already prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

However, there is more work to be done. In spite of the ruling today by the federal court, it is still legal in most states to fire a person for their sexual orientation and gender identity.



House Committee Passes Birth Certificate Bill

March 15, 2017

The bill to modernize the Illinois birth certificate law passed the Illinois House Human Services Committee Wednesday morning by a 7-4 vote.

Thank you to Rep. Greg Harris, and Equality Illinois’ coalition partners the ACLU of Illinois, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Howard Brown Health, and Lambda Legal.

And a special thank you to the amazing and brave witnesses for sharing their experiences with the committee. The bill will help transgender and gender non-conforming Illinoisans have correct birth certificates,

Call your state representative today and tell them to support HB 1785.



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.



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.


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.



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.



EI Participates in Women Demand Respect Rally

October 22, 2016

Women Demand Respect RallyICYMI – Representing Equality Illinois, our Jessica Peters joined a Women Demand Respect rally across from Chicago’s Trump Tower on Thursday to speak out against the anti-women rhetoric and attitudes of the Trump-Pence ticket. #womenspeak
Jessica joined advocates from UNITE HERE Local 1, Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, Chicago Women Take Action, Grassroots Illinois Action, Chicago NOW PAC, Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, AFSCME Council 31, Citizen Action Illinois, Chicago Activites, Men4Choice, SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana, and Independent Voters of Illinois.
Video is courtesy of the The Video Catalyst Project, where you can find video of the other rally speakers.

Posted by Equality Illinois on Saturday, October 22, 2016

Representing Equality Illinois, our Jessica Peters joined a Women Demand Respect rally across from Chicago’s Trump Tower on Thursday to speak out against the anti-women rhetoric and attitudes of the Trump-Pence ticket.

“We in the LGBTQ community know well what members of so many other communities know: words matter. Words internalize oppression. Words protect discrimination. Words incite violence,” Jessica said. “We at Equality Illinois stand with full respect for all women–young girls and grown women, lesbians and straight, transgender or cisgender. We join our partners today in calling on all Illinoisans, of all parties, to demand that their leaders exhibit basic human decency and honor the dignity of women.”

Video is courtesy of the The Video Catalyst Project, where you can find video of the other rally speakers.


Equality Illinois PAC Makes Endorsements

September 22, 2016

pac-fb-meme-2016The Equality Illinois PAC announces endorsements of 51 candidates, including Susana A. Mendoza for Illinois State Comptroller and state legislative candidates, in the general election on November 8, 2016.

“The opponents of LGBT equality and inclusion are determined to stop progress towards full equality,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.

“We must be vigilant in our work to secure and defend our hard-fought victories and values. Electorally, we must elect those candidates who stand with LGBT Illinoisans.”

Read more


10,000 Same-Sex Marriages in Cook County

August 29, 2016

Celebrating 10,000 same-sex marriages in Cook CountyThe marriage license for the 10,000th same-sex wedding in Cook County should be issued today or tomorrow.

At a celebration hosted by Cook County Clerk David Orr, Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson, who with his husband Toby were the 9,191st same-sex couple to be wed here, said that they were part of the last wave of couples for whom marriage was not a legal option when they first met.

“I look forward to the day in the not so distant future,” Brian said, “when we lose track of the number of same-sex couples who marry and that Illinois simply rejoices in how many families we call our own.”


Equality Illinois Condemns Attempt to Undermine Ban on Conversion Therapy

August 11, 2016

CONVERSION THERAPY LAWSUITEquality Illinois condemns the lawsuit filed by a small handful of pastors against Illinois’ law protecting LGBT youth from harmful conversion therapy.

The Youth Mental Health Protection Act is based on scientific consensus. The law protects patients from harmful, coercive, and fraudulent treatments that attempt to change the unchangeable.

Faith leaders remain free to say what they want from the pulpit, regardless of how misguided it may be.



Chicago City Council Stands Up for Transgender People

June 22, 2016

Victory Equal Access Ordinance V2The Chicago City Council stood up for the rights of transgender people Wednesday when it passed the Equal Access Ordinance, a measure supported by Equality Illinois that will ensure equal access consistent with a person’s gender identity in places of public accommodations in Chicago.

The ordinance passed the 50-person council on a vote of 45-5, and it has the support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“You should not have to prove your gender identity to use a bathroom in a restaurant, hotel or store. The existing law has the effect of humiliating transgender and gender non-conforming people, many of whom have been unable to correct the gender markers on their IDs. Chicago’s current law is fundamentally unfair,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.



Orlando tragedy brings Illinois’ Muslim, LGBT communities together

June 21, 2016
Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson and former Equality Illinois Board Chair Dalila Fridi at news conference

Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson and former Equality Illinois Board Chair Dalila Fridi at news conference

In the wake of last week’s shooting in Orlando that left 49 dead and another 53 injured in a gay nightclub, leaders from the LGBT and Muslim communities in Illinois called Monday for a joint commitment to civil rights.

Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal – Midwest Regional Office and the Council on American Islamic Relations-Chicago participated in the news conference on Monday.

“We have seen many leaders in politics and the media attempt to link the tragedy to the Muslim community,” said Brian Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. “We call on all Americans to reject efforts to divide Americans and instead join us in support of the Muslim-American community.”



Chicago Enhances Pride Events Security

June 17, 2016

OEMClogoCity of Chicago officials, aldermen and event organizers are pledging enhanced safety and security measures ahead of the June 18-19 Pride Fest and the 47th Annual Pride Parade on Sunday, June 26.

“Since the tragedy in Orlando, OEMC and the Chicago Police Department have met several times and we have adjusted resources and increased security measures so that the focus can remain on what Pride Fest and the Pride Parade are all about – the celebration of our LGBT community,” said Rich Guidice, Managing Deputy Director of Operations for the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC).

To keep the community informed about the safety and security plans, Equality Illinois is sharing the city’s detailed press release.



Bill Ensures LGBT Pension Fairness

May 31, 2016

LGBT pensionsEquality Illinois applauds passage today of legislation ensuring pension fairness for LGBT individuals who retired from public employment prior to the civil unions law and marriage equality law. We now call upon Gov. Bruce Rauner to expeditiously sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk.

Equality Illinois advocated for the bill, which allows retired public employees who are in a same-sex civil union or marriage to designate survivor benefits for their spouse.

Prior to the enactment of civil unions and marriage equality in Illinois, members of the these public pension systems who were in same-sex relationships were not able to designate their partner for survivor benefits because the state did not legally recognize them as couples.



Equality Illinois Names Brian C. Johnson as CEO

April 26, 2016
Brian C. Johnson

Brian C. Johnson

Equality Illinois’ work on behalf of LGBT Illinoisans and their families enters its second quarter century under a new leader who has a history of social justice advocacy, building diverse coalitions and improving educational outcomes for youth.

Named today as the Chief Executive Officer of Equality Illinois is Brian C. Johnson, who currently serves as a Vice President at Leadership for Educational Equity, a national organization that works to get teachers and former teachers more politically and civically active. Johnson, a former public school teacher, has spent more than a decade leading high profile advocacy campaigns, including those centered on social justice and youth issues.

As Johnson takes over, Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, is celebrating its 25th anniversary year with a mission to continue its work “Until We’re All Equal,” a mission that Johnson fully embraces.



Sign Petition to Protect Transgender Students

March 23, 2016

HB 4474 petition-1It’s happened in other states, and now it’s happening in Illinois. A shameful bill, which would force ‪‎transgender‬ students to use separate school facilities from their peers, has advanced to the Illinois House Human Services Committee. We need to stop it in its tracks! Sign the petition at the link below.

We’ll deliver the petition to the legislators on the committee, which could take action on this bill in April, and to your representative.

HB 4474 is an awful and harmful policy that would write discrimination into Illinois law and make schools less safe. Please sign the petition.



Kirk, Durbin Should Promptly Act on Court Replacement

February 14, 2016

Equality Illinois today calls on Senator Mark Kirk and Senator Dick Durbin to promptly act on President Obama’s nomination to replace the Justice Scalia.

Sen. Kirk will be under tremendous pressure from his Republican colleagues to automatically reject the President’s nominee.

Yet, Sen. Kirk has demonstrated a thoughtful willingness to work in a bipartisan manner on important issues. This is the Mark Kirk that we hope will be part of the confirmation process for President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court.



New LGBT Protections in 2016

January 1, 2016

New Year's Day 2016 for web

Three new LGBT equality laws that were Equality Illinois’ legislative priorities in 2015 are in effect as of January 1, 2016:

  • A ban on dangerous and ineffective conversion therapy to protect LGBT youth,
  • Enhanced hates crimes protections that specifically include gender identity as a protected category and extends hate crime protections to LGBT community centers, and
  • Requiring gender identity wishes to be followed in funerals and burials.

Equality Illinois worked hard with allies and legislative sponsors to pass the laws and secure the approval of Gov. Rauner. Now we will make sure they and all the laws that protect LGBT Illinoisans are enforced as we continue our work to build a more just Illinois in 2016.