For nearly two decades, Equality Illinois has led the charge to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. We were founded by activists who fought to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the City of Chicago, which passed in 1988.
There is a renewed movement in the U.S. to pass a comprehensive non-discrimination law, and the federal Equality Act was introduced in Congress on July 23, 2015. Click here to read more about the national effort to pass the Equality Act.
At the state level, Equality Illinois spearheaded the successful effort to outlaw discrimination against LGBT Illinoisans with the passage of an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act in 2005. Because of our work, the State now prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
To learn more about the requirements of the Illinois Human Rights Act or to file an employment discrimination complaint, visit the Illinois Department of Human Rights website (En Español).
Equality Illinois worked with smaller communities over the years to pass non-discrimination ordinances, including the cities of Bloomington, Decatur, DeKalb, Peoria, and Springfield. We also worked with numerous corporations in establishing non-discrimination policies, as well as domestic partnership benefits, for their employees.
Nationally, there is no comprehensive federal non-discrimination law protecting LGBT Americans, though there are federal rules and policies prohibiting discrimination regarding some specific topics.
State laws aren’t much better. More than 206 million people – 65 percent of Americans – live in states where LGBT people have no explicit statewide workplace protections that include sexual orientation and gender identity. Twenty-seven states have no anti-discrimination laws for LGBT individuals that apply to public accommodations.
On the federal level, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has been proposed in nearly every Congress since 1994 but died again with the adjournment of the last Congress after passing the Senate but never being called for a vote in the House by Speaker John Boehner.
With Congress not acting on the need for federal protections, President Obama signed an executive order in July, 2014, prohibiting employment discrimination by federal contractors and subcontractors against LGBT workers. Its effective date is April 8, 2015.
Learn more about the executive order at the U.S. Department of Labor website.
The Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination in providing health care and insurance.
Passing the federal Equality Act is necessary as LGBT people continue to face adversity and discrimination in the workplace and public accommodations, even in many states where there is marriage equality. Fewer than half of the states have enacted non-discrimination policies protecting employees based on sexual orientation, and even fewer have provisions making discrimination against transgender workers illegal. Therefore, a comprehensive national policy dealing with anti-LGBT discrimination is crucial. Every employee or potential employee should be treated with consistency based on merit and performance.
Read each category under the ISSUES tab for more details and access to agencies that can provide assistance.