Archive for the ‘Issues’ Category


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.



Tell Congress: Preserve ObamaCare

March 22, 2017

Equality Illinois’ Anthony Charles Galloway joined many other organizations at 2:40 PM Wednesday to tell Congress not to repeal the Affordable Care Act, because the Republican alternative would deny health coverage to 24 million Americans.

Call 866-246-9371 to tell your member of Congress to vote NO on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Watch the video to learn more.


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.”




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.


December 25, 2016



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.



Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2016

tdor-300x251This Sunday we pause for the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

We memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The day is also a statement that we as a community must recommit ourselves to the fight against transphobia.

The disheartening list of people who lost their lives in 2016 can be found here.

There are memorial events scheduled today in Chicago, Rockford, Peoria and Hinsdale and Monday in Evanston.



Apply for Community Advisory Group

October 6, 2016

advisory-group-v4As part of our commitment to an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders across Illinois, Equality Illinois is launching a Community Advisory Group – a diverse cross-section of voices from across Illinois to inform the policy positions and initiatives we adopt and pursue in our work to secure and defend the equal and inclusive rights of LGBTQ Illinoisans.

The group will be composed of 20 individuals. If you’re interested, go to the application page to review the objectives and responsibilities of the Community Advisory Group, then download, complete, and return the form.

We want to make sure the Community Advisory Group includes the diverse views of LGBTQ Illinoisans from every corner of the state. Together, we will advance justice and equality in Illinois.



Equality Illinois and Kirkland & Ellis Recognized for Legal Work

September 26, 2016
Serena Grant, Director of TrustLaw, (on left) presents the award to Mike Ziri of Equality Illinois and Marjorie Lindblom and Seirian Thomas of Kirkland & Ellis

Serena Grant, Director of TrustLaw, (on left) presents the award to Mike Ziri of Equality Illinois and Marjorie Lindblom and Seirian Thomas of Kirkland & Ellis

Equality Illinois is honored to have received with Kirkland & Ellis LLP the Impact Award from the TrustLaw Foundation, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global pro bono legal program.

The award celebrates our partnership with the law firm on legal research that informed our advocacy for legislation sponsored by Rep. Kelly Cassidy & Sen. Daniel Biss that banned conversion therapy in Illinois.

During the legislative process, we were privileged to partner with leading medical and mental health organizations as well as the The National Center for Lesbian Rights, the ACLU of Illinois, Lambda Legal and many others on this effort! Thank you, TrustLaw, for your help and for this recognition.



Celebrating Labor Day

September 5, 2016

Labor Day 2016

On Labor Day 2016, Equality Illinois celebrates the workers who thrive in LGBT-welcoming jobs as we recommit to fight for the federal Equality Act in Congress so that our labor is respected and protected in all workplaces throughout the nation.


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 CEO Writes: Ban Conversion Therapy Nationally

August 17, 2016

Advocate columnIn a column in the online edition of The Advocate magazine, Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson argues for a national ban on dangerous and ineffective conversion therapy practiced against LGBT‬ youth.

Johnson wrote in response to the lawsuit filed by a group of pastors against the new Illinois law passed and signed with bipartisan support last year.

As noted, the law does not prohibit faith leaders from preaching their beliefs; it does prevent state-licensed mental health professionals from offering treatments debunked by science, unsupported by the mental health professional community and usually harmful to the individual and the family.



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.



Atty. Gen. Madigan Joins Brief Supporting Transgender Illinoisans

July 27, 2016

lisa madigan-1Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan today joined 12 other attorneys general throughout the U.S. in support of the Obama Administration’s policies that advance the equal treatment and protection of ‪‎transgender‬ Americans in workplaces and schools, a move applauded by Equality Illinois.

“Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is standing firm for the equal rights of transgender Illinoisans, especially students. In signing this bold brief in support of the Obama Administration’s trans-inclusive policies, Attorney General Madigan’s position is rooted in the best traditions of the Land of Lincoln,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.



GOP Leaders Set Record by Blocking Nomination

July 20, 2016

GARLAND recordToday, U.S. Senate Republicans set an ignominious record: They’ve allowed President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court to linger for 126 days, longer than for any other nomination to the high court.

When the Republicans announced their intention to prevent any consideration of Judge Garland last March, Equality Illinois said, “This is an abuse of power and contrary to the United States Constitution and American history.” At this record-setting moment, the Republican inaction is demonstrably contrary to American history.

Republican leaders Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, and Charles Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, managed to make it to Cleveland for the Republican Convention. It would be good if they spent a little time doing the jobs for which they were elected.



New Law Clinic Will Assist Transgender Illinoisans

June 30, 2016

Gender Law Clinic memeEquality Illinois and The John Marshall Law School are launching a Gender Marker and Name Change Legal Project to help people work through the maze of county, state and federal government offices, their forms and the fees they must navigate to live their true gender identity. The program will be assisted by the Seyfarth Shaw law firm.

Among the legal changes that might be needed by a transgender or gender non-conforming person are a court-sanctioned name change, as well as making a name and gender marker correction on a state driver’s license or ID, birth certificate, Social Security card and passport and adjusting Selective Service registration.

A transgender or gender non-conforming person may face humiliation, discrimination and harassment if their core identification documents are not corrected to reflect their gender identity.