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Panic Defense Ban

August 28, 2017

Governor Rauner Approves Ban on Use of LGBTQ Panic Defense
Equality Illinois Legislative Agenda Becomes Law

CHICAGO (August 28, 2017)–Criminal defendants who kill LGBTQ people can no longer be acquitted by claiming a panic defense–that they were provoked by a fear of the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity–under a new law signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner that was part of the 2017 legislative agenda of Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for LGBTQ Illinoisans.

“This new law ensures​ LGBTQ people are not blamed for the violence perpetrated against them simply because of who they are,” Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, said Monday. “We thank Gov. Rauner for supporting the panic defense ban. With the unanimous support of the legislature and the governor’s action, Illinois continues its proud bipartisan tradition of advancing justice for LGBTQ Illinoisans.”

The measure, SB 1761, which the governor signed on Friday after unanimously passing both chambers of the General Assembly, is part of the 2017 legislative agenda of Equality Illinois. The agenda also included two other bipartisan bills signed into law in recent days. The LGBTQ Public Service Law (SB 1670), which enhances LGBTQ representation and visibility on state boards and commissions, was approved by Gov. Rauner on Aug. 18. The third bill, HB 1785, modernizes state law so transgender individuals won’t have to undergo unnecessary surgical procedures at great expense in order to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates. It was signed last Friday.

“This is a huge achievement. With the approval of these three bills by the legislature and the governor, Illinois is moving forward on LGBTQ rights while the federal government reverses course and Donald Trump is going against the tide of history,” Johnson said. “These bills improve the lives of LGBTQ Illinoisans, and having them signed into law also improves the social and political fabric for everyone in the state. It could have only happened through the collaboration of Illinois Democrats and Republicans. Working together, we can achieve great things.”

An initiative of Equality Illinois, Senate Bill 1761 was sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston and state Rep. Litesa Wallace of Rockford. The legislation unanimously passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly in May. SB 1761 is, we believe, the first bill in the country supporting LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) rights to pass with unanimous support from a state legislature.

“We applaud Sen. Biss and Rep. Wallace for championing this legislation. ​After we first discussed this issue with them in 2015, they immediately picked up the baton and ran with the bill, working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to build bipartisan support.​ The lives of LGBTQ Illinoisans will be better because of this law,” Johnson said.

The panic defense was first used in Illinois in 1972. Gay or trans panic defenses allow a defendant to receive a lesser sentence, and, in some cases, even avoid being convicted and punished by blaming the defendant’s actions on the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Under SB 1761, the discovery, knowledge, or disclosure of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity would not qualify as a mitigating factor or serious provocation in order for a defendant to receive a reduced murder charge.

“While these cases are rare, they are shocking and rooted in irrational and deep-seated fears and prejudice against LGBTQ people. That’s why this bill should also be placed in the context of violence against LGBTQ people,” Johnson said. “LGBTQ people have historically faced and continue to suffer disproportionately high rates of violence. In 2015, one-fifth of the hate crimes reported to the FBI were because of the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. For a long time, society condoned such violence. With SB 1761, we are determined to ensure that animus does not carry over into the courtroom.”

Illinois becomes the second state in the country to pass a law against the panic defense. In 2013, the American Bar Association adopted a resolution calling on state governments to legislatively curtail the availability and effectiveness of the defenses. California approved such a ban in 2014.

SB 1761 is supported by the American Bar Association, Anti-Defamation League, Illinois State’s Attorneys Association, National LGBT Bar Association, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

 

LGBTQ 2017 Legislative Agenda

April 4, 2017

Equality Illinois 2017 Legislative Agenda Advances LGBTQ Civil Rights
Signed into law: Banning panic defense, building visibility on state boards,
and modernizing birth certificate changes

The Equality Illinois 2017 legislative agenda is 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 for the 2017 session of the Illinois General Assembly responded to ongoing challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Illinoisans. Equality Illinois also supported several bills initiated by other organizations that advance justice in Illinois. And we opposed some measures that seek to restrict the rights of LGBTQ Illinoisans.

These priorities are informed by the fears and anxiety of many LGBTQ people as civil rights protections are being rolled back at the federal level by the Trump Administration and perhaps by the Republican-controlled Congress.

“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, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Illinois, the state’s LGBTQ civil rights organization.

“We offered this robust agenda that advances justice and civil rights protections for LGBTQ Illinoisans so we may truly live equal lives.”

Equality Illinois Director of Public Policy Mike Ziri led our advocacy in the state Capitol with legislative partners and allied organizations on these priorities. (Status of bills listed below is as of Sept. 28, 2017.)

Equality Illinois Agenda

SB 1761, an initiative of Equality Illinois, would curtail use of a panic defense in murder cases. These panic defenses are based on the premise that a defendant accused of a violent crime against another party justifies the assault on the grounds that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction. The so-called “gay panic defense” and ”trans panic defense” are rooted in the stigmatization of LGBTQ people. The panic defense was first used in Illinois in 1972 and most recently in 2009. In 2013, the American Bar Association adopted a resolution urging governments to curtail the availability and effectiveness of the panic defenses. The Illinois initiative is sponsored by Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and Rep. Litesa Wallace (D-Rockford). STATUS: Passed Senate May 5 by 41-0, and passed the House May 31 104-0. Signed by the governor on Aug. 25.

SB 1670, another Equality Illinois initiative, is designed to encourage the development of LGBTQ Illinoisans for public service. It would allow individuals applying to boards and commissions under the authority of the Governor’s Office to voluntarily self-identify as LGBTQ. The Governor’s Office would have to include the data in the Governor’s annual report to the General Assembly of the demographic data of individuals who apply for boards and commissions and for those who are appointed. Presently, applicants already self-identify their ethnicity, gender, and disability status, and the Governor’s Office reports that data to the legislature. 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. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign). STATUS: Passed the Senate on April 27 by 46-4 and passed the House on May 24 by 95-12. Signed by Gov. Rauner on Aug. 18.

HB 1785
would modernize the standard for a person to change the gender marker on their birth certificate. The bill is an initiative of a coalition including Equality Illinois, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, Howard Brown Health Center, Lambda Legal, and AIDS Foundation of Chicago. HB 1785 would move Illinois into the 21st century by aligning the standards in statute with modern standards of medical care for transgender individuals. The federal government and fourteen other states have adopted a similar standard. To avoid humiliation, discrimination, and harassment, it is critically important for transgender individuals to have identification documents that reflect their authentic gender identity. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago). STATUS: The House passed bill 63-43 on May 25, and the Senate approved it 32-22 on May 31. Signed by Gov. Rauner on Aug. 25.

The Equality Illinois 2017 Legislative Agenda includes participation in the Responsible Budget Coalition campaign to secure a fair state budget supported by reasonable revenue sources.

Equality Illinois Also Supports

HB 40 ensures access to safe and legal reproductive healthcare in Illinois by repealing anti-choice language in the Illinois Criminal Code and providing access to such care to individuals whose health care needs are covered by Medicaid and state employee health insurance plans. HB 40 is sponsored by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago). STATUS: Passed the House 62-55 on April 26 and passed the Senate 33-22 on May 10. Gov. Rauner signed HB 40 on Sept. 28.

With HB 426 (Immigration Safe Zones Act), schools, medical facilities, and places of worship in Illinois wouldn’t have to give access to federal immigration authorities or local law enforcement working on their behalf without a warrant. State agencies and schools would be barred from asking about immigration status on applications, questionnaires, or interview forms. HB 426 is sponsored by Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Westchester). STATUS: Awaiting House action.

HB 2394 provides legal authority to 4-year public universities in Illinois to provide financial aid to undocumented students who already qualify for in-state tuition. Also, the bill prevents a university from denying financial aid to a person who has been convicted of possession or sale of cannabis, controlled substances, or methamphetamine if they otherwise qualify for the financial aid. HB 2394 is sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Cicero) and Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria). STATUS: Awaiting House action.

An initiative of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, HB 3711 updates the Illinois hate crimes law by strengthening the reach of protections from hate crimes, ensuring all victims of hate crimes are afforded a civil remedy, establishing a civil penalty, and providing the Illinois Attorney General with civil enforcement authority. The bill enhances an underlying legal framework – the hate crimes law – that LGBTQ people rely upon for justice. Ensuring that this legal mechanism is strong and robust is all the more important following the dramatic increase in hate crimes. HB 3711 is sponsored by Rep. Litesa Wallace (D-Rockford). STATUS: Passed the House 89-22 on April 26 and passed the Senate on May 26 44-11. Signed by Gov. Rauner on Aug. 18.

Equality Illinois Opposes

Equality Illinois is also working with allies in Springfield against two measures which would set back LGBTQ rights in the state: SB 64 would establish a license to discriminate against LGBTQ Illinoisans under the guise of “religious freedom,” and HB 664 would force transgender students to use separate restrooms and locker rooms from their peers in schools. STATUS: SB 64 held in Senate subcommittee. HB 664 held in House Rules Committee.

 

Spring to Action 2017

March 2, 2017

Equality Illinois LGBTQ Spring to Action Agenda
Focuses on Local Events Throughout Illinois

Events scheduled in Springfield, Peoria, Carbondale, Bloomington-Normal, and Metro East

CHICAGO (March 2, 2017)–LGBTQ Americans find themselves in a position we haven’t been in for nearly a decade: fighting against an administration that wants to turn back the clock on LGBTQ rights. This sadly signals to others that it is permissible to try to stop the progress we’ve all fought so hard to achieve locally and nationally.

To this, Equality Illinois is responding with an aggressive Spring to Action agenda to build a strong and affirming voice among LGBTQ Illinoisans and our allies throughout the state to keep Illinois as an island of equality. At the same time, we are part of the national fight to defend our freedoms.

The Spring to Action agenda begins next week in Springfield and continues in cities throughout the state. In the coming weeks, Equality Illinois will host a series of trainings on LGBTQ issues, engage in town hall forums, and sponsor EqualityCon 2017 in Springfield for a daylong conference. Local LGBTQ and allied organizations are cosponsoring the trainings, town halls and EqualityCon.

“The laws that guarantee legal equality in Illinois still do not always create a true, open, lived equality for the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people and our families,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. “It’s not enough to simply join the fight against the anti-LGBTQ actions of the Trump administration in Washington. We must simultaneously build a more fair and just Illinois.”

Anthony Galloway, Director of Education and Outreach of Equality Illinois, said, “Our Spring to Action will help give LGBTQ Illinoisans and our allies the knowledge and tools they need to further realize our rights in the state, particularly in regions where they may be less visible or face more challenges.”

The spring Statewide Training Series begins next week in Springfield (March 9) and continues in Peoria (March 15), Carbondale (March 28), Bloomington-Normal (March 30-31), and the Metro East area (April 18). Topics will include advocating to your public official, being an ally for LGBTQ youth, and fighting housing discrimination. Details and free registration for the training programs can be found at www.equalityillinois.org/2017trainings.

Town hall forums are scheduled for Bloomington-Normal (April 4), Peoria (April 5), Carbondale (April 19) and Metro East (May 23), with more to be scheduled. The town halls will feature Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson offering “An Illinois Agenda for LGBTQ Equality,” which will be based on the findings of a statewide listening tour that Johnson conducted after he assumed the leadership of Equality Illinois last June 1, hundreds of conversations with LGBTQ stakeholders in Illinois, and on a statewide survey taken last summer. Details and free registration for the town halls can be found at www.equalityillinois.org/Townhalls2017/.

EqualityCon 2017 on May 6 is a daylong conference in Springfield’s State House Inn where speakers and panel discussions will cover a wide range of topics including adoption by LGBTQ parents, updating legal documents for transgender Illinoisans, LGBTQ rights in the schools, and much more. More information on the program and registration can be found at www.equalityillinois.org/EqualityCon2017/.

The Spring to Action agenda includes the previously announced Equality Illinois 2017 legislative priorities, a package of bills that will advance the civil rights protections of LGBTQ Illinoisans. Bill topics include the criminal justice system, public boards and commissions, and documents needed by transgender Illinoisans. The bills would ban so-called “gay panic defense” and ”trans panic defense” in murder cases, ensure non-discrimination in jury service, increase LGBTQ participation on scores of state boards, and modernize birth certificate corrections, which would aid transgender Illinoisans. Read more about the legislative priorities at www.equalityillinois.org/2017-legis/.

 

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.

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2017 legis

February 13, 2017

Equality Illinois 2017 Legislative Agenda Advances LGBTQ Civil Rights
Robust package includes banning panic defense, ensuring equal jury service,
visibility on state boards, and modernizing birth certificate changes

SPRINGFIELD (February 13, 2017) – Equality Illinois announced on Monday 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.

The organization’s robust agenda for the 2017 session of the Illinois General Assembly responds to ongoing challenges faced by  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Illinoisans. Those challenges were exacerbated by the fears and anxiety of many LGBTQ people that civil rights protections may be rolled back at the federal level by the Trump Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress.

“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, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Illinois, the state’s LGBTQ civil rights organization.

“We are offering this robust agenda that advances justice and civil rights protections for LGBTQ Illinoisans so we may truly live equal lives. We call on the Illinois General Assembly and Governor Rauner to quickly enact these bills.”

Equality Illinois Director of Public Policy Mike Ziri has been working in the state capitol with legislative partners and allied organizations to seek passage of the following bills introduced in recent days:

SB 1761, an initiative of Equality Illinois, would curtail use of a panic defense in murder cases. These panic defenses are based on the premise that a defendant accused of a violent crime against another party justifies the assault on the grounds that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction. The so-called “gay panic defense” and ”trans panic defense” are rooted in the stigmatization of LGBTQ people. The panic defense was first used in Illinois in 1972 and most recently in 2009. In 2013, the American Bar Association adopted a resolution urging governments to curtail the availability and effectiveness of the panic defenses. The Illinois initiative is sponsored by Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and Rep. Litesa Wallace (D-Rockford).

There are currently no statutory non-discrimination prohibitions for picking a jury in Illinois. SB 889 and HB 2431 are initiatives of Equality Illinois to establish non-discrimination protections in jury service in Illinois on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, order of protection status, disability, military status, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, or unfavorable military discharge. No person who is qualified and able to serve should be excluded from jury service. Many other states and the federal government have such non-discrimination protections. If a jury of one’s peers is to be representative of the community, such non-discrimination protections are essential in Illinois. This legislative proposal would bring our judicial system nearer to eliminating discrimination and ensuring equal protection under the law. The proposal is sponsored by Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) and Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Hillside).

SB 1670, another Equality Illinois initiative, is designed to encourage the development of LGBTQ Illinoisans for public service. It would allow individuals applying to boards and commissions under the authority of the Governor’s Office to voluntarily self-identify as LGBTQ. The Governor’s Office would have to include the data in the Governor’s annual report to the General Assembly of the demographic data of individuals who apply for boards and commissions and for those who are appointed. Presently, applicants already self-identify their ethnicity, gender, and disability status, and the Governor’s Office reports that data to the legislature. 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. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

HB 1785 would modernize the standard for a person to change the gender marker on their birth certificate. The bill is an initiative of a coalition including Equality Illinois, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, Howard Brown Health Center, Lambda Legal, and AIDS Foundation of Chicago. HB 1785 would move Illinois into the 21st century by aligning the standards in statute with modern standards of medical care for transgender individuals. The federal government and fourteen other states have adopted a similar standard. To avoid humiliation, discrimination, and harassment, it is critically important for transgender individuals to have identification documents that reflect their authentic gender identity. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago).

The Equality Illinois 2017 Legislative Agenda includes participation in the Responsible Budget Coalition campaign to secure a fair state budget supported by reasonable revenue sources.

Equality Illinois is also working with allies in Springfield against two measures which would set back LGBTQ rights in the state: SB 64 would establish a license to discriminate against LGBTQ Illinoisans under the guise of “religious freedom,” and HB 664 would force transgender students to use separate restrooms and locker rooms from their peers in schools.

 

2016 Agenda

February 21, 2016

Equality Illinois Releases Robust 2016 Legislative Agenda
Includes end to panic defenses, non-discrimination in jury service
and easier birth certificate changes

SPRINGFIELD (February 19, 2016) – Equality Illinois on Friday announced its 2016 legislative agenda, including prohibiting the use of panic defenses in murder cases, implementing non-discrimination protections for jury service, and modernizing the process to change gender markers on birth certificates.

All three measures are important to the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, which Equality Illinois is now in its 25th year of representing in the halls of the Illinois State Capitol.

At the same time, Equality Illinois is opposing two measures that seek to turn back the clock on the rights of LGBT Illinoisans. Those measures would carve out broad and discriminatory exemptions to the state’s widely accepted anti-discrimination laws that have been in place for more than a decade.

“We know the fight for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Illinoisans is not over,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois. “That’s why we are pushing forward on proposals that advance the equal rights of LGBT Illinoisans and raising the alarm about measures that seek to take away rights that have existed for years.”

Friday is the deadline for introducing bills for consideration by the General Assembly this year. Working with our legislative partners and allied organizations, Equality Illinois lobbyists are on the job in the state Capitol to seek action on the following measures:

• SB 3046, an initiative of Equality Illinois, would prohibit the use of a panic defense in murder cases. These panic defenses are based on the premise that a defendant accused of a violent crime against another party justifies the assault on the grounds that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction. The so-called “gay panic defense” and ”trans panic defense” are rooted in the stigmatization of LGBT people. The panic defense was first used in Illinois in 1972. In 2013, the American Bar Association adopted a resolution urging governments to curtail the availability and effectiveness of the panic defenses. In 2014, California became the first state to legislatively ban the use of the panic defenses. SB 3046 is sponsored by Sen. Daniel Biss.

• SB 3286, an initiative of Equality Illinois, establishes non-discrimination protections in jury service. The bill prevents a party to a case in state court from using a preemptory challenge to remove a prospective juror on the basis of their race, color, religion, national origin, economic status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Presently, Illinois does not have a jury service non-discrimination statute for any protected class. Many other states and the federal government have such protections. However, only eleven states prohibit discrimination in jury service on the basis of sexual orientation. Of those, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Oregon established protections through statute. Only California, Colorado, Minnesota, and Oregon protect transgender individuals from such discrimination. If a jury of one’s peers is to be representative of the community, such non-discrimination protections are essential. SB 3286 is sponsored by Sen. Toi Hutchinson.

• HB 6073, which is an initiative of a coalition including Equality Illinois, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, and other organizations, would modernize the standard for a person to change the gender marker on their birth certificate. Presently, a physician must submit an affidavit that the person has undergone a gender reassignment operation, a procedure which may actually be unnecessary, harmful, or prohibitively out of reach for some individuals. As a result of that operation, the gender marker on the birth certificate should be changed. Consistent with modern standards of care, HB 6073 provides that a mental health or medical professional would declare that the person has undergone clinically appropriate treatment or has an intersex condition and, therefore, the gender marker should be changed. The federal government and eleven other states have adopted a similar standard. To avoid humiliation and harassment, it is critically important for transgender and intersex individuals to have identification documents that reflect their authentic gender identity. This bill will relieve them of a serious burden. HB 6073 is sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris.

Equality Illinois also continues our engagement with the Responsible Budget Coalition to ensure the state adopts a responsible and fair budget plan that provides adequate revenues to protect vital services and programs for Illinois families, children, and communities. Recently, we participated in the State of OUR State rally that took place immediately before Governor Rauner delivered his State of the State address on January 27. Budget advocacy is a central piece of our 2016 legislative agenda.

Equality Illinois will continue to lead opposition to anti-equality measures SB 2164 and HB 4474. Introduced by Sen. Kyle McCarter last summer, SB 2164 would provide individuals, non-profits, and businesses the right to claim a religious belief or moral conviction that would allow them to discriminate against same-sex couples, LGBT individuals, and single heterosexual parents. The bill is identical to the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, which was introduced last year in the U.S. Congress.

The second bill, HB 4474, which is sponsored by Rep. Tom Morrison, would prohibit transgender and gender non-conforming students from using the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity. Instead, a school district may permit the student to use a single-occupancy or faculty facility. Shortly after the bill’s introduction, Equality Illinois joined 13 other organizations on a joint statement in opposition to this blatantly discriminatory bill and in support of transgender and gender non-confirming students.

“These anti-LGBT equality bills are part of a broad national effort to weaken the equal rights of LGBT people,” Cherkasov said. For instance, on Tuesday, South Dakota became the first state to pass legislation prohibiting transgender students from using the school facilities that correspond to their gender identity. That bill is pending a decision by the South Dakota governor to approve or veto it.

 

Equality Illinois Calls on Governor Rauner to Ensure His Appointments Better Reflect the Full Diversity of Illinois

October 11, 2018

On National Coming Out Day, Equality Illinois Calls on Governor Rauner to Ensure His Appointments Better Reflect the Full Diversity of Illinois

Equality Illinois criticizes Governor Rauner for only reporting 1 openly LGBTQ appointee among the 1,495 appointees to Illinois state boards and commissions

(October 11, 2018)

Chicago – On National Coming Out Day, when we should be celebrating the full diversity of the LGBTQ community in Illinois, Equality Illinois is extremely disappointed in the unbelievable lack of LGBTQ representation among the more than 400 appointments made by Governor Rauner to state boards and commissions during Fiscal Year 2018, the civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Illinoisans said on Thursday. The data is contained in a report quietly published last week by the Governor’s Office.

Of the 431 appointments the governor made between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, only 1 appointee publicly identifies as a lesbian, gay, or bisexual person. Furthermore, despite the new LGBTQ Public Service Law that took effect on January 1, 2018, transgender Illinoisans who apply or who are appointed aren’t even being counted. The data is contained in the Governor’s FY18 Gubernatorial Boards and Commissions Act Report that was released on October 1. The report is available online.

“In a year when LGBTQ people are engaging in the political process in record numbers across the country, the lack of LGBTQ representation and visibility in appointments by Gov. Rauner to state boards and commissions is frustrating and extremely disappointing,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. “On behalf of the estimated 400,000 LGBTQ adults who live in Illinois, we call on the Governor’s Office to be more aggressive in recruiting top talent and do better to ensure that Illinoisans of all backgrounds are inspired to lend their strengths and talents to public service. We must live up to our shared value of inclusion in the Land of Lincoln.”

The report also demonstrated a shocking lack of diversity among many dimensions.  African-Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and women are all under-represented among the appointees to Illinois state boards and commissions.

The data on LGBTQ identity in the report is collected because of the LGBTQ Public Service Law, an initiative of Equality Illinois and sponsored by Sen. Scott Bennett and Rep. Will Guzzardi in 2017. The measure allows individuals who apply to serve on boards and commissions under the authority of the Governor to voluntarily publicly identify as LGBTQ. Prior law requires applicants to a state board or commissions to self-identify their gender, disability status, and ethnicity. All of this data must be published annually in a report to the General Assembly of the demographic data of individuals who apply for boards and commissions and for those who are appointed. The state website appointments.illinois.gov contains information about the boards and commissions including the annual report of demographic data of the appointees.

“When LGBTQ people are visible, we are powerful. The LGBTQ Public Service Law is supposed to contribute to a leadership path for LGBTQ individuals who want to engage in public service and build a better Illinois,” Johnson said. “In turn, those officials can share our experiences and stories as LGBTQ people. That helps when we work to advance policies that are inclusive, affirming, and fair.”

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2018 Gala Honorees

September 27, 2017

Equality Illinois Honors Planned Parenthood of Illinois
and LGBTQ Rights Activist Jim Bennett

Recognition will be at the 2018 Equality Illinois Gala presented by United Airlines

CHICAGO (September 27, 2017)–For their dedication to social justice and equality, Planned Parenthood of Illinois and veteran LGBTQ rights activist Jim Bennett will be honored at the 2018 Equality Illinois Gala.

United Airlines is the Presenting Sponsor of the Gala, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ formal celebration, to be held on Saturday, February 3, 2018 at the Hilton Chicago, Equality Illinois announced Wednesday.

More than 1,000 attendees, including more than 100 political figures and community VIPs, are expected to celebrate the accomplishments that advanced LGBTQ civil rights over the last year and hear about Equality Illinois’ mission in 2018 and beyond to create a more welcoming and inclusive state for LGBTQ Illinoisans and our families.

“We are celebrating new legislation that Equality Illinois helped pass so that transgender Illinoisans have an updated birth certificate law, LGBTQ Illinoisans will see better representation on state boards and commissions, and the anti-LGBTQ panic defense is outlawed,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.

“The gala is also an opportunity for Equality Illinois to share our vision for countering the headwinds of the anti-LGBTQ policies sweeping the nation by continuing to advance LGBTQ civil rights in Illinois,” Johnson said.

The Gala is the single-largest fundraising event for the Equality Illinois Institute, which funds the ongoing educational and outreach work for LGBTQ equality throughout the state of Illinois.

“Illinois-based United Airlines, the Presenting Sponsor of the Gala and the Exclusive Airline of Equality Illinois since 2014, is a longtime champion of our work and of LGBTQ rights,” Johnson said. “It was one of the earliest U.S. corporations to prohibit discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and, later, gender identity.”

Gregory D. Jones, Chief Diversity Officer of United Airlines, said, “At United, we pride ourselves on being as diverse as the communities we serve around the globe. From our headquarters in Illinois to our operations around the globe, the 90,000 members of the United family act as ambassadors for the core values of dignity, equality, and opportunity in the workplace. These are values United not only shares with Equality Illinois but which we have advanced together. But, we know our work is far from done, which is why we reaffirm our commitment as the official Airline Sponsor and Presenting Sponsor of Equality Illinois and its annual gala.”

At the Gala, the Equality Illinois Business Leadership Award, given annually to organizations that demonstrate remarkable vision, courage, and leadership in the effort to achieve full equality for LGBTQ individuals in Illinois, will be presented to Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

“We are proud to honor Planned Parenthood for a century of providing access to sexual and reproductive health care and information, often facing tremendous challenges, and more recently for offering transgender health care services including hormone therapy in health centers in Chicago and central Illinois,” Johnson said.

Responding to the recognition, Jennifer Welch, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said, “Planned Parenthood believes that LGBTQ rights and reproductive rights are deeply connected to civil rights for all. We have long stood with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the struggle for full equality. PPIL will continue to be a strong and passionate advocate for policies that enable ALL Illinoisans to access comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care. I am so proud of the work PPIL is doing to provide quality care to anyone who needs it, no matter who they love, where they live, or how they identify. It is essential that we strive to make every patient feel welcome, comfortable, and cared for.”

The Equality Illinois Freedom Award, which honors individuals who demonstrate remarkable vision, courage, and leadership in the effort to achieve full equality for LGBTQ individuals in Illinois, will be presented at the gala to Jim Bennett. For more than a decade as Midwest Regional Director and recently as Chief Development Officer, Bennett has contributed his strong and powerful voice for our community through his work at Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest legal organization dedicated to securing the full civil rights of the LGBTQ community and people with HIV.

“We will always be grateful to Jim for taking on the Herculean task of chairing the Illinois Unites for Marriage coalition, which pulled together LGBTQ organizations, Republicans and Democrats, labor and business and many more for the successful campaign to win marriage equality in Illinois,” Johnson said.

Bennett, reacting to the honor, reflected on the importance of the statewide work of Equality Illinois. “Springfield is my hometown. When I came out, I did what ‘everyone does’, I moved to Chicago. I am thankful to Equality Illinois for always seeing Illinois as one state, and I’m thrilled to be part of their efforts to make sure equality reaches all the way across the Land of Lincoln because we really are everywhere,” Bennett said.

“No matter how good we’ve done as a movement in gaining political power and public acceptance, we still find ourselves too often on the outside. We need to know how to play the game as insiders and how to fight for our rights in the streets. I am thankful that Equality Illinois has my back. They are pros at working with our leaders in the General Assembly to stop bad legislation from seeing the light of day and moving good bills. I feel protected.”

Tables and individual tickets for the 2018 Equality Illinois Gala are now available at www.equalityillinois.org/2018Gala. Purchases made before Oct. 31, 2017 receive a 10% discount.

 


Gov. Rauner Meets with LGBTQ and Allied Leaders

September 26, 2017

Photo courtesy C. Grost Photography

LGBTQ and allied groups met with Gov. Bruce Rauner Tuesday morning to discuss challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Illinoisans that might find remedy in actions by the state.

The issues discussed during the meeting at Equality Illinois included healthcare and human services, youth and schools, housing, immigration, LGBTQ cultural competency of state-funded programs, and the protection and promotion of civil rights.

The governor also presented ceremonial copies of two bills he signed this summer that were part of the 2017 Equality Illinois legislative agenda–bills that modernize the birth certificate law for transgender Illinoisans needing to correct their gender marker and ban the anti-LGBTQ panic defense in murder cases. He also signed this year a bill to build LGBTQ representation on state boards and commissions.

READ MORE ABOUT THE MEETING

 

Rauner Meeting

September 26, 2017

Governor Rauner Meets with Leaders of LGBTQ and Allied Organizations
Leaders present expansive agenda to advance LGBTQ equality in Illinois

(Note: Pictures of the meeting are at the bottom of this press release.)

CHICAGO (September 26, 2017)–LGBTQ and allied groups met with Gov. Bruce Rauner Tuesday morning to discuss challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Illinoisans that might find remedy in actions by the state.

The issues discussed during the meeting at Equality Illinois, the state’s LGBTQ civil rights organization, included healthcare and human services, youth and schools, housing, immigration, LGBTQ cultural competency of state-funded programs, and the protection and promotion of civil rights.

The governor also presented ceremonial copies of two bills he signed this summer that were part of the 2017 Equality Illinois legislative agenda–bills that modernize the birth certificate law for transgender Illinoisans needing to correct their gender marker and ban the anti-LGBTQ panic defense in murder cases. He also signed this year a bill to build LGBTQ representation on state boards and commissions.

“We thanked the governor for signing these significant measures that advance LGBTQ civil rights,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. “It is also important that he heard from diverse voices in the state about the challenges LGBTQ Illinoisans still face in achieving full equality in Illinois and being able to live fulfilling and authentic lives.”

In addition to Equality Illinois, the organizations represented at the meeting included ACLU of Illinois, Affinity Community Services, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Association of Latinos/as Motivating Action (ALMA), Chicago House and Social Service Agency, Howard Brown Health, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, Lambda Legal, and Pride Action Tank.

During the approximately half-hour meeting, the participants presented an overview of key issues and provided the governor with an expansive agenda for consideration by him and his administration. (The organization(s) requesting inclusion of the particular policy item on this list is indicated in parentheses.)

ISSUES AGENDA

Healthcare and Human Services

  • Protection of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid, especially opposition against the Graham-Cassidy rewrite of health insurance (AIDS Foundation of Chicago)
  • Gubernatorial leadership opposing ACA repeal (Howard Brown Health)
  • Ensuring the Department of Insurance provides proper oversight to stop and take action against discrimination for people living with HIV and other chronic diseases in the ACA insurance marketplace (AIDS Foundation of Chicago)
  • Adequate funding for HIV services and programs and launch statewide “Getting to Zero” HIV elimination plan (AIDS Foundation of Chicago)
  • Restore Illinois Department of Human Services funding to levels of two years ago (Chicago House and Social Service Agency)
  • Sign House Bill 40 to ensure access to safe and legal reproductive healthcare for all women in Illinois (Equality Illinois)
  • HIV quality measures in Medicaid managed care (Howard Brown Health)
  • Medicaid access to Hepatitis C cure treatments (Howard Brown Health)

Housing

  • More resources for LGBTQ youth who are experiencing homelessness (Pride Action Tank)
  • Sign the Medicaid 1115 Waiver so that Medicaid can pay for tenancy support services in Illinois (Chicago House and Social Service Agency)

Youth and Schools

  • Improve treatment and placement of LGBTQ youth in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) (Grayson Alexander)
  • Improve access to mental health services for LGBTQ students in schools (Grayson Alexander)
  • In order to foster consistent affirming policies across the state, the Illinois School Board of Education should issue guidance to schools for affirming and supporting transgender students, including by allowing them to use facilities that match their gender identities, as required by the Illinois Human Rights Act. (ACLU of Illinois)
  • Regarding the fair and inclusive treatment of transgender students across Illinois, we want gender-affirming and clear guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education using existing district policies that have been working well for years and that is consistent with the Illinois Human Rights Act (Illinois Safe Schools Alliance)
  • Child welfare experts believe that LGBTQ youth are over-represented in child welfare systems and that one of the most significant barriers to providing this population with better care is a lack of research. For this reason, we have been advocating for a study on the prevalence and experiences of LGBTQ youth in DCFS care. The Governor’s office can play an important role in identifying funding and intellectual resources to facilitate such a study. (ACLU of Illinois)

Training

  • Requiring LGBTQ-cultural competency training for state-funded programs (Pride Action Tank)

Immigrant Rights and the LGBTQ Community

  • Urge the governor to make statements against the President’s recent decisions regarding the pardoning of former Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted on criminal contempt for racial profiling of Latinos, and against the President’s ban on recruitment of transgender individuals by the military (ALMA)
  • Urge the governor to support greater protections for all immigrants, especially LGBTQ folks. For instance, the governor should support providing specific state resources to organizations providing both legal and advocacy services for LGBTQ immigrants seeking asylum and citizenship. An example of such an organization is the National Immigrant Justice Center, a Heartland Alliance program. Many of our LGBTQ immigrants face the threat of violence or death if returned to their countries of origins. (ALMA)

Civil Rights

  • Enhance our civil rights protections by reducing the 15-or-more employee requirement to be a covered employer under the Illinois Human Rights Act (Dr. Anthony Kreis)

ORGANIZATIONS and INDIVIDUALS OFFERING ISSUES AGENDA

ACLU of Illinois
Contact: Khadine Bennett, Director of Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs

Affinity Community Services
Contact: Imani Rupert-Gordon, Executive Director

AIDS Foundation of Chicago
Contact: John Peller, President and CEO
Ramon Gardenhire, Vice President of Policy

Association of Latinos/as Motivating Action
Contact: Luis Roman, Board Member

Chicago House and Social Service Agency
Contact: Scott Ammarell, Chief Executive Officer

Equality Illinois
Contact: Brian C. Johnson, Chief Executive Officer

Howard Brown Health Center
Contact: David Munar, President and Chief Executive Officer

Illinois Safe Schools Alliance
Contact: Owen Daniel-McCarter, Executive Director​

Lambda Legal
Contact: Christopher Clark, Midwest Regional Director

Pride Action Tank
Contact: Kim Hunt, Executive Director

Dr. Anthony Kreis
Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law
Advocate for Senate Bill 1761 (panic defense ban)
Equality Illinois Community Advisory Group

Grayson Alexander
First year student, Loyola University
Advocate for House Bill 1785 (birth certificate modernization law)
Equality Illinois Community Advisory Group

#   #  #


 

CAPTIONS:
Picture 1. Gov. Bruce Rauner meets in the offices of Equality Illinois, the state’s LGBTQ civil rights organization, with leaders of LGBTQ and allied groups PICTURE CREDIT: C. GROST PHOTOGRAPHY

Picture 2. Gov. Bruce Rauner discussed issues important to LGBTQ Illinoisans with a group of leaders of the state’s LGBTQ and allied groups. Listening are Kim Hunt (left) of Pride Action Tank and Brian C. Johnson (right) of Equality Illinois PICTURE CREDIT: C. GROST PHOTOGRAPHY

Picture 3. Gov. Bruce Rauner signs a ceremonial copy of Senate Bill 1761, which bans the anti-LGBTQ panic defense in murder cases, and presents it to Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. The governor signed the bill officially in August. PICTURE CREDIT: C. GROST PHOTOGRAPHY

 

State Boards

August 21, 2017

Gov. Rauner Signs LGBTQ Public Service Bill

CHICAGO (August 21, 2017)–At a time when federal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans are being rolled back at the federal level, a bill to encourage public service by LGBTQ Illinoisans has been signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The LGBTQ Public Service Bill is an initiative of Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer lllinoisans.

“Equality Illinois believes that when LGBTQ people are visible, we are powerful. The LGBTQ Public Service Bill will contribute to a leadership path for LGBTQ individuals who want to engage in public service and build a better Illinois. In turn, those officials can share our experiences and stories as LGBTQ people. That helps when we work to advance policies that are inclusive, affirming, and fair,” Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, said Monday.

“At a time when the Trump Administration is turning its back on transgender students and betraying the patriotism of transgender members of the U.S. military, representation and visibility on the local and state levels are more important than ever,” Johnson said.

The new law, Senate Bill 1670, helps the state gather necessary information to know whether Illinoisans of all backgrounds are inspired to lend their strengths and talents to public service.

The measure allows individuals who apply to serve on boards and commissions under the authority of the Governor’s Office to voluntarily self-identify as LGBTQ. Existing law already allows applicants to self-identify their gender, disability status, and ethnicity. SB 1670 also adds the new data about sexual orientation and gender identity to an existing annual report to the General Assembly of the demographic data of individuals who apply for boards and commissions and for those who are appointed. The state website appointments.illinois.gov contains information about the boards and commissions including the annual report of demographic data of the appointees.

“We are proud to have partnered with legislative sponsors Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) and Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) to promote LGBTQ public service on state boards and commissions. We thank them and Gov. Rauner for advancing LGBTQ inclusion in Illinois with the LGBTQ Public Service Bill,” Johnson said.

SB 1670, which takes effect January 1, 2018, passed the Illinois General Assembly with significant bipartisan support. The bill is part of Equality Illinois’ 2017 legislative agenda, which  includes bipartisan bills to ban the LGBTQ panic defense in murder cases in Illinois (SB 1761), and to modernize state law for transgender individuals to get correct birth certificates (HB 1785). The governor has yet to act on them.

 

Pride 2017

June 1, 2017

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.

 


Giving Tuesday 2014

December 2, 2014

Giving Tuesday Mem 2014

Given our momentum, it may seem like full equality for the LGBT community is inevitable, but in the last month, we have seen several reminders that our work is not done.

Today is both Giving Tuesday and #ILGiveBig, you can help us hit our goal of 1000 donations so that we can continue the important work that lies ahead for equality. Please make your donation here today>>

There are many examples of our work, I’ll highlight three key areas:

1) Advancing LGBT equality at the state level. We must ban the harmful ex-gay conversion therapies and curtail the so-called panic defense for committing crimes against LGBT individuals.

2) Leading the fight for equality nationally. We must pass federal discrimination protections, and we need all members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation to support the federal legislation.

3) Securing equal treatment for all. We are working with faith communities and employers across the state to create inclusive places and welcoming practices.

Please make your Giving Tuesday gift today to Equality Illinois, so that we can continue to advance these protections and promote equal treatment for all.  

Equality Illinois is committed to being a strong voice that the LGBT community needs in Illinois. You know well from our national history, passing equal laws is just the beginning of building a society with equal treatment.  Equality Illinois will leave no stone unturned in our fight to end discrimination and advance equality for all.

We have you to thank for our success – please recommit yourself to this important work by donating to Equality Illinois on this Giving Tuesday, and help us spread the word to hit our goal.

Thank you for all that you do,

Bernard Cherkasov
Chief Executive Officer

 

Press Releases

April 18, 2013
2019 PRESS RELEASES

Equality Illinois and the National Center for Transgender Equality Applaud Modernized Illinois Policy for Gender Marker Corrections on Driver’s Licenses and State ID Cards
September 3, 2019

Measure for Non-Binary Gender Marker on Driver’s Licenses and State ID Cards Approved by Gov. Pritzker
August 23, 2019

Equality Illinois Applauds Gov. Pritzker’s Approval of Legislation Strengthening Illinois Non-Discrimination Protections in the Workplace
August 20, 2019

Illinois LGBTQ-Inclusive Jury Service Non-Discrimination Legislation Approved by Gov. JB Pritzker
August 9, 2019

Illinois Legislation to Advance Equity for LGBTQ Older Adults Approved by Gov. Pritzker
August 9, 2019

LGBTQ Inclusive Curriculum Bill Approved by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker
August 9, 2019

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Illinois Deputy Gov. Sol Flores among community Leaders to be Honored at Fahrenheit Chicago 3 for their commitment to Advancing Equality for LGBTQ Illinoisans
August 9, 2019

Equality Illinois Institute Announces “Fahrenheit Chicago 3: Bronzeville is Burning” – Centering Black and Latinx LGBTQ Illinoisans
July 19, 2019

Equality Illinois welcomes the Governor to the work of creating inclusive schools for transgender youth, but says it’s too early to celebrate
June 30, 2019

Equality Illinois 2019 Pride Month Kickoff Brunch to Feature Chicago Mayor Lightfoot
May 30, 2019

Illinois General Assembly Advances Measure for Non-Binary Gender Marker on Driver’s Licenses and State ID Cards
May 30, 2019

Equality Illinois supports SB 7, the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act
May 22, 2019

LGBTQ Advocacy Day on Wednesday, MAY 15, to Push Illinois to keep Moving Forward on LGBTQ Equality and Inclusion
May 2, 2019

Equality Illinois is excited about today’s historic election
April 2, 2019

Equality Illinois is excited about today’s historic election
April 2, 2019

LGBTQ Inclusive Curriculum Bill Advances to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker
March 23, 2019

LGBTQ-Inclusive Jury Service Non-Discrimination Legislation Advances to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker
March 22, 2019

Equality Illinois announces their support of SB 7, the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act
March 22, 2019

Illinois Legislation to Advance Equity for LGBTQ Older Adults Advances to Gov. Pritzker
March 21, 2019

Legislation to Ensure Equitable Restroom Access in Public Spaces in Illinois Advances to Gov. Pritzker
March 21, 2019

LGBTQ Inclusive Curriculum Bill Passes Illinois House
March 13, 2019

Equality Illinois Celebrates Lori Lightfoot advancing to the April 2 run-off election
February 26, 2019

2018 PRESS RELEASES

2019 Equality Illinois Gala Honors Danny Wirtz, Channyn Lynne Parker and the Illinois AFL-CIO
December 18, 2018

Equality Illinois Responds to Rauner’s Campaign Ad Mocking Marriage Equality 
October 23, 2018

On National Coming Out Day, Equality Illinois Calls on Governor Rauner to Ensure His Appointments Better Reflect the Full Diversity of Illinois
October 11, 2018

Equality Illinois Thanks Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for His Long Record of Support for LGBTQ Equality
September 4, 2018

LGBTQ Advocates Lora Branch and Mo Green and South Side institution Jeffery Pub Honored for Leadership in Lifting Up LGBTQ Communities of Color in Chicago
August 22, 2018

Equality Illinois Condemns Gov. Rauner’s Veto of Legislation that Would Strengthen Illinois Non-Discrimination Protections in the Workplace
August 13, 2018

Leading Civil Rights Organizations Urge Governor Rauner to Sign Bill that Would Help Protect Illinoisans from Discrimination
August 7, 2018

Equality Illinois to Host Fahrenheit Chicago, the End-of-Summer Pride Celebration
July 12, 2018

Statement of Equality Illinois on the Nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court
July 9, 2018

Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Equality Illinois, ACLU of Illinois, and Courts Matter Illinois Denounce Trump’s Anti-Abortion, Anti-Equality Supreme Court candidates
July 5, 2018

Equality Illinois Urges Gov. Rauner to Extend Non-Discrimination Protections to All Illinois Workplaces
June 14, 2018

Illinoisans Must be Vigilant Following U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Cakeshop Discrimination Case
June 4, 2018

Pride Month Celebrated Despite Uncertainty Over LGBTQ Rights
June 1, 2018

Equality Illinois Pride Brunch Honors Two LGBTQ Advocates
May 25, 2018

Breakthru Beverage Group Grows Relationship with Equality Illinois
May 24, 2018

Equality Illinois Invites Amazon Workers to Pride Kickoff Brunch
May 3, 2018

Illinois Senate Passes LGBTQ Inclusive Curriculum Bill
May 2, 2018

LGBTQ Advocacy Day to Push Inclusive Curriculum Bill
April 10, 2018

Equality Illinois Urges State Legislators to Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment
April 9, 2018

Equality Illinois 2018 Pride Brunch to Feature Former Houston Mayor, Who Leads National Effort to Elect LGBTQ Officials
March 26, 2018

Inclusive Curriculum Bill Introduced to Teach LGBTQ History
February 16, 2018

Aurora Must Grant Pride Parade Permit
February 12, 2018

Tributes, celebration, and next steps for LGBTQ civil rights to mark 2018 Equality Illinois Gala
February 3, 2018

2017 PRESS RELEASES

Three New Laws Advance LGBTQ Equality in 2018
December 19, 2017

Colorado Bakery Case Could Lead to Destruction of Illinois Civil Rights Protections
December 5, 2017

Equality Illinois to Honor Transgender Youth Activist Jazz Jennings at Gala
November 30, 2017

EI Advisory Board Member Appointed to State Panel on Sexual Harassment
November 17, 2017

Candidates Forum To Air at Statewide Watch Events
November 9, 2017

Equality Illinois Launches Drive to Advance LGBTQ Public Leadership
October 31, 2017

Equality Illinois Condemns Trump Administration’s Licenses to Discriminate Against LGBTQ People
October 6, 2017

Equality Illinois Gala to Honor Planned Parenthood of Illinois and LGBTQ Rights Activist Jim Bennett
September 27, 2017

Gov. Rauner Meets with Leaders of LGBTQ and Allied Organizations
September 26, 2017

Coalition Announces The LGBTQ Forum: The Democratic Candidates for Governor
September 7, 2017

Equality Illinois Condemns Trump’s Plan to End DACA and Calls on Congress to Act
September 5, 2017

Governor Signs Panic Defense Ban
August 28, 2017

Governor Signs Birth Certificate Modernization Bill
August 25, 2017

Fahrenheit Chicago to Honor Health Advocates
August 25, 2017

LGBTQ Public Service Bill Signed by Gov. Rauner
August 21, 2017

Fahrenheit Chicago–Pride South on the Beach Announces Entertainment Lineup
August 16, 2017

Diverse LGBTQ Community Members and Allies Serve on Equality Illinois Boards
August 14, 2017

Equality Illinois Supports Transgender Troops at Illinois State Fair
August 11, 2017

Equality Illinois Recognizes 51 Law Firms for ‘Raising the Bar’ on LGBTQ Inclusivity
August 1, 2017

Equality Illinois Condemns Trump’s Ban of Transgender Service People
July 26, 2017

Equality Illinois and AIDS Foundation of Chicago Host Fahrenheit Chicago-Pride South on the Lake
July 25, 2017

Equality Illinois Says Pride Celebrations Must Be Joined by Action
in Memory of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting Victims
June 1, 2017

Senate Sends Governor Measure to Help Transgender Illinoisans Obtain Correct Birth Certificates
May 31, 2017

General Assembly Votes to Ban Use of LGBTQ Panic Defenses in Murder Cases
May 31, 2017

House Passes Bill to Help Transgender Illinoisans; Now Up to Senate to Modernize Birth Certificate Law
May 25, 2017

Equality Illinois Applauds Federal Appeals Court Ruling Protecting Workers Regardless of Their Sexual Orientation
April 4, 2017

Equality Illinois Town Halls Launch in Central and Southern Illinois
April 4, 2017

Equality Illinois Spring to Action Agenda Focuses on Local Events Throughout Illinois
March 2, 2017

Equality Illinois Condemns Federal Action Overturning Transgender Youth Protections
Feb. 22, 2017

Equality Illinois Supports Protecting Women’s Reproductive Freedom
Feb. 14, 2017

Equality Illinois 2017 Legislative Agenda Advances LGBTQ Civil Rights
Feb. 13, 2017

Modernizing State Birth Certificate Law Will Help Transgender Illinoisans
Feb. 1, 2017

Equality Illinois 2017 Gala to Offer Vision for LGBTQ Rights During Challenging Times
Jan. 31, 2017

Coalition Statement Against Discriminatory Legislation Targeting Transgender Students in Illinois
Jan. 27, 2017

Equality Illinois Denounces New Attempt to Attack LGBTQ Illinoisans
Jan. 12, 2017

2016 PRESS RELEASES

Trump-Pence Create Grave Concerns Among LGBTQ Illinoisans
Dec. 29, 2016

Equality Honors Mona Noriega and Terry Cosgrove with Freedom Awards
Dec. 12, 2016

Equality Illinois Announces Statewide Community Advisory Group
Dec. 5, 2016

Illinois Forum to Discuss LGBTQ Fears from a Trump Presidency
Nov. 18, 2016

Equality Illinois Honors Lurie Children’s Hospital with Business Leadership Award
Nov. 17, 2016

Equality Illinois Condemns Attempt to Undermine Youth Protections
August 11, 2016

Equality Illinois Applauds Attorney General Lisa Madigan for Brief Supporting Transgender Illinoisans
July 27, 2016

Trump VP Pick Callously Disregards LGBT Americans
July 15, 2016

New Law Clinic Will Assist Transgender Illinoisans
June 30, 2016

Chicago City Council Stands Up for Transgender People
June 22, 2016

Statement, Vigils in Wake of Orlando Shooting
June 12, 2016

New Equality Illinois CEO to Launch Statewide Listening Tour
June 1, 2016

Legislation Ensuring LGBT Pension Fairness Sent to Governor
May 31, 2016

Equality Illinois Commends Chicago Leaders for Acting Against Discrimination
May 18, 2016

EqualityCon 2016 to Hear From Equality Act Chief Sponsor
May 11, 2016

Equality Illinois Applauds Chicago Schools Policies for Transgender
and Gender-Nonconforming Students and Adults
May 3, 2016

Equality Illinois Names Brian C. Johnson as CEO
April 25, 2016

Gov. Rauner and Legislators Meet with Transgender Illinoisans
April 15, 2016

On LGBT Advocacy Day, Citizens Urge Support for Transgender Illinoisans and State-Funded Services
April 13, 2016

Equality Illinois Calls for Prompt Consideration of Court Nominee
March 6, 2016

Equality Illinois Offers Robust 2016 Legislative Agenda
February 19, 2016

Equality Illinois Hosts Financial Education Fair
February 9, 2016

Nancy Pelosi Headlines Saturday’s 25th Anniversary Gala
February 5, 2016

Joint Statement on Stopping Discrimination Against Transgender Students
January 22, 2016

J.B. Pritzker Chairs Equality Illinois 25th Anniversary Gala
January 21, 2016

Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov Steps Down Later This Year
January 21, 2016

Sen. Mark Kirk Endorses the Equality Act
January 20, 2016

Equality Illinois Denounces Discriminatory Legislation That Stigmatizes Transgender Students
January 20, 2016

Equality Illinois Applauds Rep. Dold, First Republican to Endorse Equality Act
January 15, 2016

New Look, Enduring Commitment Mark Equality Illinois’ 25th Anniversary Rebranding
January 14, 2016

Equality Illinois PAC Hosts Pat Quinn To Support Pro-Equality Candidates
January 4, 2016

2015 PRESS RELEASES

Equality Illinois Business Leadership Award Honors Mariano’s
December 18, 2016

Palatine Dispute  Highlights Discrimination Faced by Transgender Students
December 7, 2015

‘I Am A Refugee’
November 19, 2015

Equality Illinois Freedom Award Honors Nancy Pelosi
November 17, 2015

Equality Illinois Political Action Committee Hosts David Axelrod
November 6, 2015

Leaders Discuss Ongoing Fight for LGBT Rights in a Marriage Equality World
October 31, 2015

New Equality Illinois Springfield Office and Central Illinois Advocate
October 13, 2015

LGBT Consumers and Public Accommodation Law
October 6, 2015

Mourning Rep. Golar
September 21, 2015

Equality Illinois Expands Statewide Strategy
August 29, 2015

White Sox, Equality Illinois Continue LGBT Pride Night Tradition
August 25, 2015

New Protections for LGBT Youth and Gender Identity Become Law in Illinois
August 20, 2015

LGBT Equality Institute in Springfield Welcomes Experts and Grassroots Activists
August 7, 2015

Historic Equality Act Needed to Protect LGBT Americans
July 23, 2015

Enhanced Hate Crimes Protections Become Law in Illinois
July 20, 2015

Equality Illinois Honors 42 Law Firms for Commitment to Diversity
July 15, 2015

Durbin and Kirk Lead Illinois Support to Protect LGBT Youth
July 11, 2015

Corporate Social Responsibility and LGBT Equality: A Program to Build an Inclusive Workplace Culture
July 8, 2015

Equality Illinois Alarmed at Failure to Pass State Budget
July 1, 2015

Celebrate Marriage Victory But Remember Ongoing Challenges
June 26, 2015

Gerber House Named a National Historic Landmark
June 19, 2015

More Than 10,000 Same-sex Couples Wed in Illinois Await Supreme Court Decision
June 17, 2015

Conversion Therapy Restrictions Bill Sent to Gov. Rauner
May 29, 2015

“Remembering the Pink Triangle” Commemoration Honors the Homosexual Victims of Nazism
May 27, 2015

Enhanced LGBT Hate Crimes Protections Sent to Gov. Rauner
May 20, 2015

Protecting LGBT Youth Bill Passes House
May 19, 2015

Significant LGBT Victories in 2015 Municipal Elections
April 8, 2015

Supreme Court Marriage Cases Important to Illinois Couples
April 24, 2015

Advocates Urge Support for LGBT Youth and State Services
April 15, 2015

Illinois Laws Against LGBT Discrimination Provide Balance to Religious Freedom Standards
March 28, 2015

LGBT Advocacy Day Will Reach Out to Legislators
March 26, 2015

Gov. Rauner Makes Commitment to LGBT Illinoisans After Meeting Leaders
March 20, 2015

Equality Illinois Denounces Confirmation of James Meeks as Chair of Illinois Board of Education
March 19, 2015

Illinois Mental Health Experts Support Ban on Conversion Therapy
March 17, 2015

Equality Institute Welcomes Amanda Simpson, First Transgender Presidential Appointee
March 13, 2015

EQILPAC Urges Runoff Voters to Support Mayor Emanuel
March 12, 2015

Coalition Against Conversion Therapy Launches Online Petition
March 6, 2015

EQILPAC Endorses Mayor Emanuel and Four Incumbent LGBT Aldermen for Re-Election
February 16, 2015

Largest Midwest LGBT Gala Honors Bi-Partisan Leaders
February 13, 3015

Equality Illinois Applauds Appointment of LGBT Rights Diplomat
February 5, 2015

Robust Business Support Backs Equality Illinois Work
February 4, 2015

Equality Illinois Honors Entertainer Lea DeLaria with Freedom Award
January 23, 2015

Equality Illinois Launches Initiative to Ban Conversion Therapy
January 20, 2015

Equality Illinois Welcomes Supreme Court Order to Hear Marriage Cases
January 16, 2015

Equality Illinois Recognizes Grosvenor Capital with Business Leadership Award
January 15, 2015

Equality Illinois Releases New Adoption Guide for Prospective LGBT Parents
January 14, 2015

Equality Illinois Offers Rauner Cooperation; Slams Meeks Appointment

January 11, 2015

Equality Illinois Names Policy Director, Development Associate
January 9, 2015

Previous Years Press Releases
2012 PRESS RELEASES
2013 PRESS RELEASES
2014 PRESS RELEASES

Remembering Rep. Mulligan
December 31, 2014

Equality Illinois Honors TransLife Center of Chicago House with Freedom Award
December 17, 2014

Equality Illinois Calls for Resignation of School Board Member
December 11, 2014

Equality Illinois Remembers Judy Baar Topinka
December 10, 2014

2015 Equality Illinois Gala Celebrates Valentine’s Day; Gala Co-Chairs Are Mariterese and Patrick Balthrop
December 9, 2014

Equality Illinois Mourns the Passing of Mayor Jane Byrne
November 14, 2014

Midwest LGBT Leaders Plan Next Steps in Chicago Meeting
November 7, 2014

In Victory, Rauner  Needs to Serve All Illinoisans
November 5, 2014

Significant Wins Scored in General Election for LGBT Illinoisans
November 5, 2014

Equality Illinois Condemns Rauner for Anti-LGBT, Anti-Women Tactic
October 31, 2014

Equality Illinois Spends $600,000 Helping Candidates and Passing Marriage
October 29, 2014

The Stars Come Out for “Night of 100 Drag Queens”
October 23, 2014

New Equality Illinois Chairs Spearhead Ambitious Agenda for LGBT Rights

October 20, 2014

Documentary Responds to Homophobic Reactions to Equality Illinois Out at the Sox Game 
October 17, 2014

Equality Illinois PAC Makes Legislative Endorsements
October 13, 2014

Equality Illinois PAC Makes Bipartisan Endorsements in Statewide Races
October 7, 2014

Supreme Court Decision Demonstrates Rauner’s Wrong-Headed Stand on Marriage

October 6, 2014

Dining Out for Equality Funds Fight for LGBT Equality
October 1, 2014

Equality Illinois PAC Endorses Re-election of Gov. Pat Quinn
September 23, 2014

Rauner: Follow Court Marriage Equality Ruling
September 4, 2014

National Campaign for Marriage Equality Returns to Midwest
August 20, 2104

White Sox, Equality Illinois Continue Pride Game Tradition
August 11, 2014

Equality Illinois Honors 41 Law Firms for Commitment to Diversity
August 6, 2014

Equality Illinois Statement on Bruce Rauner-Chris Christie Fundraiser
July 25, 2014

White House Executive Orders Protect LGBT Workers
July 21, 2014

5,000 Couples Now Enjoying Marriage Equality in Illinois
July 9, 2014

Equality Illinois Asks President: No Broad Religious Exemption in Executive Order
July 8, 2014

Pass ENDA Without Broad Religious Exemptions
June 5, 2014

Equality Illinois Tribute Brunch to Salute Quinn, Emanuel and other leaders
June 3, 2014

LGBT Leaders and Allies Call Out Bruce Rauner On His Opposition to Marriage Equality
June 1, 2014

Couples and Counties Preparing Statewide for Marriage Equality
May 14, 2014

Equality Illinois Urges State Senate to Pass Anti-bullying Bill
May 13, 2014

Challenge Brunei’s Murderous Anti-Gay Policy During Ambassador’s Chicago Visit
May 7, 2014

EQIL Lists Hundreds of Clergy Who Perform Same-Sex Marriages
April 24, 2014

Equality Illinois to Continue Push on ‘Conversion Therapy’ Ban
April 11, 2014

Celebration of Marriage Equality at MCA Chicago
March 28, 2014

Equality Illinois to Host LGBT Equality Institute
March 26, 2014

Committee Passes Conversion Therapy Ban
March 26, 2014

Illinois Primary Advances Equality
March 19, 2014

Equality Illinois PAC Puts $150,000 into Campaign to Support Pro-Marriage Candidates
March 13, 2014

Equality Illinois Condemns Taxi Publication for Homophobic and Anti-Women Rhetoric
March 11, 2014

Madigan Letter Green Lights Marriage in All Counties
March 4, 2014

Central Illinois County To Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses
February 26, 2014

Equality Illinois Seeks Immediate State Marriage Equality After Court Ruling
February 23, 2014

Equality Illinois Lauds Marriage Ruling But Warns of Ongoing Attacks
February 21, 2014

EQIL Confers Freedom Award on U.S. Senator Mark Kirk
January 27, 2014

State Farm Earns EQIL Freedom Award
January 24, 2014

United Becomes Exclusive Airline for Equality Illinois
January 15, 2014

Equality Illinois Honors Chicago Filmmaker Lana Wachowski
January 14, 2014

Randy Hannig to Leave Role as Equality Illinois Public Policy Director
January 14, 2014

Equality Illinois Issues Guide to Changing Name and Gender Marker
January 7, 2014