Midwest LGBT Leaders

Midwest LGBT Rights Leaders Gather to Plan Next Steps
Equality Illinois Convenes Chicago Conference

CHICAGO (November 7, 2014) – Equality Illinois is convening leaders from Midwestern lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality organizations to a conference next week to tackle serious challenges in an uncertain political and judicial climate.

The annual autumn Midwest Leadership Summit falls after an election with conservative gains in many of the states and split rulings on marriage equality by U.S. appellate courts that cover the Midwest. Just Thursday, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld marriage equality bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. But last September, the 7th Circuit Appeals panel in Chicago that covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin upheld marriage equality.

“LGBT Midwesterners, our families and allies still face a great deal of uncertainty about our basic rights as we live, travel, and conduct business throughout the region,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the Midwest’s largest LGBT advocacy organization. “In some states, it is still legal to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The state leaders are meeting Thursday and Friday, November 13-14, at the Godfrey Hotel in Chicago. While making marriage equality a national reality remains a top priority, state equality organizations are also tackling the many challenges LGBT Midwesterners also encounter, such as school safety, transgender rights, workplace equality, immigration and caring for LGBT elderly.

“I am so proud of the progress being made in the Heartland. We are at a critical moment in our movement’s history–more people have the freedom to marry than ever before–yet there are still many who lack basic protections to live and work free from discrimination,” said Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of the Equality Federation, the national umbrella group for the state-based equality organizations.

“Our annual Midwest Leadership Summit is a time where leaders from state-based organizations come together to share lessons learned, as well as organizing, leadership, and other vital skills to build energy and shift attitudes in the communities they call home. Leaders from across the region come together to share their trials and triumphs, to learn from one another, and to forge collaborations for future success.”

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