Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category


EI Blog

October 22, 2021

“Immigration is an LGBTQ issue. There are an estimated 1.3 million LGBTQ immigrants in the United States and more than 22% of are undocumented. There are approximately 128,500 same-sex binational couples that include at least one foreign born partner/spouse. In addition, the U.S. is a destination for LGBTQ asylum seekers who come seeking safety and fleeing persecution or death based on their sexual or gender identity.”

Read more from EI’s Deputy Director Mony Ruiz-Velasco on EI’s Blog


Radicalism Is Part Of Our History

June 22, 2021

Radicalism is part of our history.  The LGBTQ community has achieved the levels of equality we enjoy today in part because members of our community refused to play nice.  The Stonewall uprising afterall was a riot.  And anger – anger at powerful institutions, governments, and people – is an appropriate and understandable response to the injustices we continue to face.  When one out of every five young people caught up in the criminal justice system identify as LGBTQ and when 22% of LGBTQ people live in poverty (including 30% of trans folx); rage at the systems which over criminalize us and marginalize us economically is absolutely legitimate.

And just as radicalism is a central part of queer liberation, so is inclusion.  We are also a community that has opened our arms wide to bring in as many LGBTQ people and our allies as possible.  Over the past decades, our rage and our love have worked together to build a movement that has achieved unprecedented wins.

As we move toward the end of Pride month, we will see (and indeed have seen) the full range of queer expression manifest.  We encourage our community and our allies to hold space for the diversity of response to LGBTQ injustices.  We also call on our community and our allies to avoid any calls – explicit or implicit – to violence against groups or individuals as part of our march toward full queer liberation.  Anger has a role in our movement; violence does not.  As a community, we are our best when we pair our rage with our love.


Equality Illinois supports bill SB 1 – $15 minimum wage

February 11, 2019

As an issue of fairness and justice to LGBTQ people, Equality Illinois supports increasing the Illinois minimum wage to $15.00. LGBTQ people should have the opportunity to provide for their families and establish economic security without burden or discrimination. Yet, our community is disproportionately affected by poverty.

Research shows that members of the LGBTQ community report lower incomes and higher rates of poverty than the general population .According to the 2018 report “Intersecting Injustice: A National Call to Action Addressing LGBTQ Poverty and Economic Justice for All” by the LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative, 25% of LGBT people experienced a period over the last year when they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family, as compared to 18% of non-LGBT people. The statistics are higher when race is considered. For instance, 37% of black LGBT individuals said they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family. Black same-sex couples are roughly three times more likely to live in poverty than white same-sex couples.

The Movement Advancement Project also reports that transgender people nationally are nearly four times as likely to have a household income under $10,000 per year as the population as a whole (15 percent vs. 4 percent). According to the Illinois data of the 2015 US Trans Survey, 21% of transgender Illinoisans report living in poverty.

A $15 minimum wage can elevate many LGBTQ people out of poverty and provide an opportunity for greater economic security for us and our families. In a 2014 study, the Williams Institute at UCLA predicted that raising the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 to $15 an hour would reduce LGBT poverty by one-third for male same-sex couples and by almost one-half for female same-sex couples. The percentage of poor female same-sex couples would fall from 6.9% to 3.7%, a 46% drop in poverty. Poverty among men in same-sex couples would fall from 3.4% to 2.2%, a drop of 35% in poverty. The poverty rates of married different-sex couples would also decrease from 5.6% to 3.1%. Almost 30,000 people in same-sex couples would see their incomes rise above the federal poverty level.

These numbers demonstrate why raising the minimum wage in Illinois would have affirming impacts on the lives of LGBTQ Illinoisans. We urge the Illinois General Assembly to pass the bill, increase the state’s minimum wage to $15, and advance justice for LGBTQ people.


Trump’s cruel Trans military restrictions

January 24, 2019

Equality Illinois responds to the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing Trump’s cruel Trans military restrictions

Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Illinoisans, issued the following statement:

Today’s Supreme Court ruling lifting two injunctions against Trump’s cruel ban on Trans military service is a slap in the face to Trans service members who have been serving with honor and distinction, many on the front lines. While the ban is not yet in effect, the Court’s decision to lift the injunctions blocking the ban means that Trans service members could soon face discharges.

Rejecting the brave military service of Trans Americans is contrary to our nation’s best values. Our military is strongest when it reflects the full diversity of our broad American community and when all Americans are welcomed to serve.  The military’s own research shows Trump’s ban weakens our military. The proposed ban will eventually mean losing qualified, trained service members and will eventually deprive the military of qualified recruits at a time when enlistment numbers are already low.

Equality Illinois will continue to stand with the Trans Community. We oppose this cruel and irrational ban, which serves no purpose other than to weaken the military and punish Trans service members for their patriotism and service.

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Happy Thanksgiving

November 26, 2015

Giving thanks v2


Report from Our New Public Policy Director Mike Ziri

February 2, 2015
Michael Ziri Director of Public Policy Equality Illinois

Michael Ziri
Director of Public Policy
Equality Illinois

As the new Director of Public Policy at Equality Illinois, I’m excited to provide my first policy report. With the new Rauner administration and a new legislature underway in Springfield and a new Congress in Washington, we got right down to work.

One of our priorities is banning ineffectual and dangerous conversion therapy during this new term of the Illinois General Assembly in order to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children.

Equality Illinois is also monitoring appointments made by Gov. Rauner. The most disturbing is his selection of Rev. James Meeks, an outspoken opponent of LGBT equality, to be the Chair of the Illinois State Board of Education. Meeks has a history of being a divisive voice, attempting to drive a wedge between Illinoisans based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. We cannot allow his social views to creep into the state’s education policies.

I’ll keep you up-to-date on policy developments through the monthly newsletter and postings on this website and social media.



Happy Holidays from Equality Illinois

December 24, 2014

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Holiday Meme 2014


Human Rights Month

December 12, 2014

Human Rights Lecture V3Join Equality Illinois this Sunday at an important lecture for Human Rights Month: “If Not Now, When? Pursuing Global Justice to Mend Our Broken World.”

Around the globe, women, girls and LGBT people are often treated as second-class citizens, facing rampant discrimination, violence and routine violations of their human rights. They are denied access to education, jobs and health services, are at heightened risk for HIV and AIDS and, in some places, fear for their lives.

Join Ruth Messinger, president of the American Jewish World Service, to understand these global challenges and learn what we can do, here in the United States, to ensure that marginalized people in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean can live with health, safety and dignity.

Equality Illinois is a proud partner of this presentation at the Illinois Holocaust Museum.

To attend this important program, registration is required.



Happy Thanksgiving

November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014


“Take Me OUT to the Ballpark”

October 17, 2014

TAke Me Out MemeIn late August, the Chicago White Sox hosted an LGBT night in partnership with Equality Illinois. Anti-gay fans ranted on social media about whether the White Sox should host such a night.

After reading through the disparaging comments, award-winning Chicago filmmaker Sam Ciaramitaro, decided to make this short film, Take Me OUT to the Ballpark. The film focuses on five Sox fans who happen to be LGBT or support LGBT rights. The fans include Charlie Rice-Minoso, the son of Sox immortal Minnie Minoso, an emergency room nurse, and the mom of a gay son.



Equality Illinois PAC Makes Bipartisan Endorsements

October 7, 2014

The Equality Illinois Political Action Committee (Equality Illinois PAC) today endorses the re-election of Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, Secretary of State Jesse White and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka in the Nov. 4 General Election.

With no incumbent in the race for treasurer, Equality Illinois PAC, endorses both candidates, state Rep. Tom Cross, a Republican, and state Sen. Mike Frerichs, a Democrat.

These bipartisan endorsements in statewide contests follow the support announced in September for the re-election of Gov. Pat Quinn, which is being backed by an aggressive Equality Illinois PAC get-out-the-vote effort.



Equality Illinois PAC Endorses Gov. Quinn

September 23, 2014

Pac Quinn endorsement 2014The Equality Illinois Political Action Committee (Equality Illinois PAC) today enthusiastically endorses Gov. Pat Quinn for re-election.

Governor Quinn’s leading role in achieving first civil unions and then marriages for same-sex couples, his open and inclusive administration, and his strong support for policies that protect LGBT students from bullying and LGBT workers from discrimination make Governor Quinn the choice of Equality Illinois PAC, the only statewide PAC focused on LGBT issues. Equality Illinois PAC is backing up the endorsement with an aggressive get-out-the-vote effort.




July 21, 2014

ObamaSignsOrderThe two executive orders expanding protections for LGBT workers signed Monday by President Obama set the standards by which policies, laws, and leaders should be judged, according to Equality Illinois.

“President Obama’s executive orders are to be applauded for their expansive coverage,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, who attended the signing ceremony in the White House East Room.

“The President also resisted appeals from extreme groups to single out LGBT workers for unprecedented broad exemptions which would have allowed taxpayer-funded contractors to use religious pretexts to discriminate.”



5,000 Couples Enjoying Marriage Equality in Illinois

July 9, 2014

Marriage Report July 2014Breaking News from an Equality Illinois Report: More Than 5,000 Couples Enjoying Marriage Equality in Illinois

Couples united in new marriages, by civil union conversions and by marriages in other jurisdictions recognized in Illinois are enjoying the benefits of Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.

“Some politicians cannot state that they will defend marriage equality and the rights of the couples and their children. It is important to note that such opposition translates into saying they cannot be counted on to stand up to defend these 5,000 families from discrimination,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.



No Broad Religious Exemptions, Mr. President

July 8, 2014

Equality Illinois and scores of other statewide equality organizations throughout the United States joined forces today in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to exclude broad religious exemptions from his promised executive order prohibiting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers by federal contractors.

Even before the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, Equality Illinois took a stand against any broad religious exemption, including the one in the current draft of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), that would give LGBT people less protection than other protected groups already enjoy under federal civil rights law.



Relive A Prideful Sunday

June 30, 2014

THANK YOU to a million of our closest friends for a spectacular Chicago Pride Parade 2014 and for welcoming the Equality Illinois contingent so warmly.

Scores of volunteers made our GET ENGAGED parade entry a great success, and players of the Chicago Sky, who joined us, added to the fun afternoon.

Please take a moment to relive the delightful day in a video and photo gallery.



Banner Recalls Rauner’s Threat to Veto Marriage Equality

June 28, 2014
Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov addresses the media at the unveiling of the Rauner poster

Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov addresses the media at the unveiling of the Rauner poster

Same-sex married couples and their children on Thursday joined with political leaders and LGBT advocates such as Equality Illinois founder Art Johnston and Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov to unveil this huge banner of Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner and remind voters of his threat to veto the marriage equality bill if given the opportunity.

The banner is hanging at the intersection of Halsted and Roscoe streets on the route of Sunday’s Chicago Pride Parade to remind participants that Rauner is willing to take away the hard fought and recently won rights for same-sex married couples and their children.


Gov. Quinn Signs Anti-Bullying Bill

June 26, 2014

Gov. Pat Quinn signs the anti-bullying law at the Skinner West Elementary School in Chicago. Looking on (upper left) is Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov.

Gov. Pat Quinn on June 26, 2014 signed an important strengthening of anti-bullying law in Illinois, setting in place policies and procedures to protect all Illinois school children, including LGBT youth.

This significant enhancement was made possible by the hard work of parents, sponsors Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans, and advocacy groups such as Equality Illinois and the ACLU of Illinois.

As described by Sen. Steans, “Based on recommendations from the School Bullying Prevention Task Force, this legislation requires school districts, charter schools and non-sectarian private schools to strengthen their anti-bullying policies in order to provide a safe learning environment for all students. Schools must designate staff members to receive anonymous reports of bullying, make efforts to investigate reports within ten days, protect student privacy, prohibit retaliation and false accusations, establish the types of interventions used to address bullying and inform students and parents of bullying-related procedures.”


Tribute Reception

June 14, 2014

TributePhotosSalesPromoWith Gov. Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and Senate President John Cullerton leading the way, last weekend’s Equality Illinois Tribute Reception to the people who made the freedom to marry a reality in Illinois was a great success.

Photographer Christine Grost captured the joy of the participants at the champagne brunch and the magical look of the JW Marriott Burnham Ballroom. More than 300 pictures of the event, the speakers and the guests are available to review and for purchase.




ENDA falls short

June 11, 2014

ENDAAs our work to eliminate discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans continues, Equality Illinois strives to make the protections as broad and as inclusive as possible.

With that in mind, Equality Illinois believes the current version of ENDA – the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act – falls short because it includes a religious exemption that would give LGBT people less protection than other protected groups already enjoy under federal civil rights law.



Illinois Witnessing Historic Marriages

June 2, 2014
Jim Darby and Patrick Bova prepare to tie the knot after a 51-year courtship. They are greeted by Gov. Pat Quinn (center), Equality Illinois' Bernard Cherkasov (right) and Lambda Legal's Jim Bennett (left).

Jim Darby and Patrick Bova prepare to tie the knot after a 51-year courtship. They are greeted by Gov. Pat Quinn (center), Equality Illinois’ Bernard Cherkasov (right) and Lambda Legal’s Jim Bennett (left).

Six months after the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act became law, it finally went into effect statewide yesterday, and today, marriage licenses are being issued throughout the state and couples who were joined in civil unions could start converting their status to marriages if they desire.

To celebrate, Equality Illinois worked with the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago to hold a series of marriage ceremonies throughout the day. All the couples were magnificent. One of the emotional highlights was the ceremony of Jim Darby and Patrick Bova, a couple together for 51 years who have been at the forefront of the fight for marriage equality.

Gov. Pat Quinn stopped by to honor their marriage and serve as a witness.



Countdown to Marriage Throughout Illinois

May 19, 2014

The countdown to marriage is underway, getting closer to June 1, 2014, when the freedom to marry finally arrives in all 102 counties of Illinois.

This joyous moment means that all loving couples who want the recognition, the respect and the rights that come with marriage for them and their children will be able to exercise their freedom in all corners of the state. The date also signifies the full implementation of the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which means that the more than 6,000 couples in civil unions in the state will be able to sign a certificate to make their unions into marriages.

Still, there are questions about the application of the law and how to take full advantage of it. Equality Illinois tries to answer them with our Countdown to Marriage Page.



Designate EQIL for Give OUT Day

May 15, 2014

GiveOutDAy2014MemeDesignate Equality Illinois as the beneficiary of your Give OUT Day generosity and be entered into a drawing to win one of four flight vouchers, courtesy of Orbitz.

Give OUT Day is a national initiative that engages hundreds of organizations and mobilizes thousands of people on a single day across the country to give in support of the LGBT community.

If you think the work of securing full LGBT equality has been completed with the passage of marriage, think again. We have an aggressive agenda set in Springfield and in Washington, including strengthening anti-bullying policies and passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Give OUT Day is today!



Pass Strong Anti-bullying Bill

May 13, 2014

Illinoiscapitol2The Illinois Senate Education Committee today sent a strong anti-bullying bill to the full Senate, and Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, is calling for swift final action to send the bill to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk before the May 31 end of the spring session.

The measure, HB5707, introduced in the House by Rep. Kelly Cassidy and sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Heather Steans, passed the House last month by a strong, bipartisan 64-43 vote. Today, the Senate Education Committee approved it on a bipartisan 10-4 vote and sent it to the full Senate.



Celebrate Pride with the Sky

May 9, 2014

Pride-Marys & Minibar4WebJoin Equality Illinois at the Chicago Sky game on June 22 to celebrate Pride.

The special Pride Package includes lots of fun extras!

When ordering tickets, use the special offer code EQUAL, and a portion of your tickets benefits the work of Equality Illinois and our advocacy on behalf of LGBT Illinoisans.

Buy just the tickets, or buy a ticket/bus combo that includes transportation from either Hamburger Mary’s in Andersonville or Minibar in Lakeview.