2015 Equality Illinois Gala


Valentine’s Day Event Celebrates “Love is Love” and Honors Leaders

CHICAGO (February 13, 2015) – Few events in Illinois can attract leaders from both political parties, incumbents and challengers, as well as business executives and community activists among the 1,200 participants.

The 2015 Equality Illinois Gala this Saturday, February 14, which this year is a Valentine’s Day celebration, will do just that. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will address the event in the Hilton Chicago. Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia will also be there.

Newly installed state Comptroller Leslie Munger, who was appointed to replace the late Judy Baar Topinka, one of the most popular figures at the annual gala, will be making one of her first public appearances. Former Gov. Pat Quinn will be welcomed, as will a representative from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office.

“Our gala truly represents a cross section of Illinois coming together at the Midwest’s largest LGBT formal event,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.

“We bring together the LGBT community and allies, policy makers and diplomats, the business community and labor leaders. We celebrate the gains for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans and set an agenda for the coming year,” Cherkasov said.

“And with the gala falling this year on Valentine’s Day, we highlight the significance that this first full year of marriage equality in the state holds for LGBT Illinoisans.”

Valentine’s Day used to be a day of dread for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families, who often felt uncomfortable displaying their true feelings in public. On this Valentine’s Day, the 2015 Equality Illinois Gala will fill two ballrooms in the Hilton Chicago and make an emphatic public statement that “Love is Love.”

In addition to remarks by Mayor Emanuel, the 2015 Equality Illinois Gala will feature:

  • Gala Co-Chairs Mariterese and Patrick Balthrop. Patrick Balthrop is recently retired as CEO of Luminex Corporation. The Balthrops are significant supporters of organizations such as Equality Illinois that fight for the LGBT community. Read more about the Balthrops.
  • Equality Illinois Freedom Award Winner Lea DeLaria. Born and raised in Belleville, Illinois, the star of the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” is a groundbreaking performer on stage and screen whose work has entertained and enlightened millions of Americans. Read more about DeLaria.
  • Equality Illinois Freedom Award Winner TransLife Center of Chicago House. For transgender individuals impacted by poverty, homelessness, and health issues, the TransLife Center provides critical, life-changing services. Read more about the TransLife Center.
  • Equality Illinois Business Leadership Award Winner GCM Grosvenor and its Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Sacks. Sacks played a prominent role in spearheading business support in the fight for marriage equality. Read more about GCM Grosvenor.With tens of thousands of members, Equality Illinois is the largest civil rights organization in Illinois fighting to secure, protect and defend full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.A festive silent auction precedes the dinner and program.

A festive silent auction precedes the dinner and program.

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