EQIL Confers Freedom Award on Sen. Mark Kirk

Equality Illinois Press Release
 

EQUALITY 
ILLINOIS 
CONFERS 
FREEDOM 
AWARD 
ON 
U.S.
 SEN. 
MARK
 KIRK
Recognition 
to 
Come 
at 
2014 
Equality 
Illinois 
Gala

CHICAGO
 (January 27, 2014) –
 U.S. 
Sen.
 Mark 
Kirk
 will 
be 
presented 
with
 the 
Equality 
Illinois 
Freedom
 Award
 at 
the 
2014 Equality 
Illinois
 Gala. In 
making
 the 
announcement 
today,
 Bernard 
Cherkasov, 
CEO
 of
 Equality 
Illinois,
 the
 state’s
 oldest
and
 largest
 advocacy 
organization
 devoted 
to
 lesbian,
 gay,
 bisexual
 and
 transgender 
Illinoisans, 
said 
the 
Freedom 
Award 
is
being 
given 
to 
the 
Illinois
 Republican 
for 
his 
leadership
 on
 and
 support 
for 
issues 
that 
involve equal
 and 
fair
 treatment 
for
all 
Americans.

“From
 his
 military
 service 
to 
his
 work 
in
 Congress,
 Sen.
 Kirk
 exemplifies
 the 
true
 meaning 
of 
being 
a 
public 
servant. 
He
approaches 
LGBT
 issues
 not
 by 
the 
political 
labels
 that 
some 
people
 attach 
to 
them
 but 
by
 whether 
they 
are 
the 
right 
thing
to 
do 
for
 Illinois 
and
 the 
United
 States,”
Cherkasov 
said. In
 addition 
to
Sen.
 Kirk,
 it
 was
 previously 
announced 
that
 the
Chicago
 Urban
 League
 and
 renowned 
Chicago 
filmmaker 
Lana
 Wachowski 
will
 also 
be
 recipients
 of 
the
 Equality 
Illinois
Freedom
 Award,
 and 
Illinois‐based 
State
Farm
 will
 receive
 the 
Business
 Leadership 
Award. 
Sen.
 Kirk,
 Wachowski,
 Urban
League
 representatives
 and
 State 
Farm
 executives 
will 
be 
present
 at 
the 
2014
 Equality 
Illinois 
Gala
 on Saturday, 
Feb. 
8
 in
the
 Hilton
 Chicago,
 chaired 
by 
Colonel 
(IL)
 Jennifer 
N.
 Pritzker,
 IL
ARNG
 (Retired).
 Some
 1,400 
guests 
are 
expected
 at
what 
is 
annually 
the 
Midwest’s 
largest
 LGBT
 formal
 event. Sen.
 Kirk, 
a 
native
 of
 Champaign,
 Illinois,
 was
 elected 
to
 the
 U.S. 
House 
of
 Representatives 
in
 2000 
and 
served 
there 
until 
he 
was 
elected 
to 
the 
U.S.
 Senate
 in
 2010.
 He
 retired
 last
year
 from 
the 
Navy 
Reserve 
with
 the 
rank 
of 
commander.
 The
 senator 
suffered
 a stroke 
in 
January 
2012 
and 
made 
a dramatic 
return 
to 
the
 Senate 
a
 year 
later 
by 
climbing 
the 
Capitol 
steps. 
As 
the 
battle 
for 
the 
freedom 
to
 marry 
in 
Illinois
 was 
heating 
up 
last
 spring,
 Sen.
Kirk 
released
 a powerful 
statement 
in
 support 
of
 the
 bill.

“When 
I 
climbed 
the 
Capitol 
steps 
in 
January,
 I
 promised 
myself 
that 
I 
would 
return 
to
 the
 Senate 
with 
an 
open 
mind
 and greater 
respect
 for
 others,”
Sen. 
Kirk
said.
”Same‐sex
 couples
 should 
have 
the
 right 
to 
civil
 marriage.
Our
 time 
on 
this
 Earth
is 
limited, 
I 
know
 that
 better 
than
 most. 
Life 
comes 
down 
to 
who 
you 
love 
and 
who 
loves 
you 
back;
 government 
has 
no 
place 
in 
the 
middle.”

Sen. 
Kirk 
has 
also 
been 
a 
stalwart 
supporter 
of 
the 
Employment 
Non‐Discrimination 
Act
 (ENDA),
 even 
being 
a
 Republican
co‐sponsor 
of 
the 
measure. 
The 
latest
 version 
of 
the
 bill
 protects 
not 
only 
gay,
 lesbian 
and
 bisexual
 people 
from
 work place
 discrimination,
 but 
also 
transgender 
people.
 He
 delivered 
his 
first 
speech 
on 
the 
Senate 
floor 
since 
the
 stroke 
to 
urge his 
colleagues 
to
 support 
the 
civil 
rights
 bill. “I
 think
 it’s
 particularly 
appropriate
 for
 an 
Illinois
 Republican 
to 
speak
 on
 behalf
 of 
this
 measure 
in 
the
 true 
tradition
 of
 Everett
 McKinley 
Dirsken
 and 
Abraham Lincoln, 
men
 who
 gave
 us 
the 
1964 Civil 
Rights
 Act 
and 
the
 13th
 Amendment 
to
 the
Constitution,”
the
 senator 
said. Most
recently,
 Sen. 
Kirk
 withdrew permission 
for 
a homophobic 
group 
to 
use 
a
 Senate
 meeting 
room,
 with
 his 
office 
stating,
”Sen. 
Kirk 
doesn’t
 affiliate 
with groups 
that
 discriminate.”

“To
 recognize 
Sen. 
Kirk’s 
contributions 
to 
the 
cause 
of 
justice 
for 
LGBT 
Americans,
 we
 are 
proud
 to 
honor 
him
 with 
the Equality 
Illinois
 Freedom
 Award,”
 Cherkasov 
said. The 
Equality 
Illinois
 Freedom 
Award 
is 
given 
annually 
to 
individuals
 who 
demonstrate
 remarkable 
vision, 
courage,
 and
 leadership 
in
 the
 effort 
to 
achieve 
full
 equality
 for 
LGBT
 individuals 
in
Illinois. 
Past
 Freedom 
Award 
winners
 include 
Illinois 
Senate 
President
 John
 Cullerton,
 state
 Rep.
 Greg 
Harris, 
the
 late
 state 
Comptroller 
Dawn 
Clark 
Netsch, 
the
 late
 state 
Rep. 
Mark
 Beaubien 
Jr.,
 and
 state 
Sen.
 Heather 
Steans.

More
 information
 on
 the
 Equality
 Illinois 
2014 
Gala 
is
 available 
on
 our 
website
 www.eqil.org.

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