Archive for the ‘Our Work’ Category


THE 2021 Post-Session Legislative Update

June 3, 2021

The 2021 spring session of the Illinois General Assembly has largely wrapped up. EI’s Policy Director Mike Ziri wants to share an update with you on the progress of several key bills that EI was leading or co-leading. Mike spent the last 3 weeks at the state capitol in Springfield, working with legislators and partners to pass key legislation, such as the Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act (SB 818) and election legislation to allow trans folks to run for office without having to disclose their deadnames on the ballot and on nominating petitions.



EI Holiday Campaign

November 2, 2020

It’s an #EIHoliday! Thank you to our Holiday Campaign Committee for pledging to donate $100 or recruit three friends to give $25 each in support of our critical work to achieve full equality for all LGBTQ folks in Illinois. Click the image here to join the Committee or give what you can, and be sure to share your reason for giving this season with the hashtag #EIHoliday on your social media pages.


EI’s Endorsed Candidates

October 16, 2020

To achieve full, lived equality for all LGBTQ+ people, Equality Illinois is committed to endorsing and supporting pro-equality candidates who will fight for civil rights and social justice.

Equality Illinois proudly endorses the following candidates for the General Election on November 3, 2020.


Voting 2020 Town Hall

October 13, 2020

The 2020 election, the most impactful of our lifetime, is underway, and Election Day is quickly approaching. On October 19 from 10 – 11 AM, Equality Illinois will host a Zoom Town Hall to answer all of your questions about voting safely and securely and to let you know what you can do in these remaining days to get out the vote.

RSVP today HERE.

State Senator Julie Morrison, the chief senate sponsor of the new law that expanded vote by mail opportunities in 2020, and Grace Pai, Director of Organizing at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, will share their expert insights on these critical issues. We want to make sure you are fully informed about all the different ways to vote as well as share information on how to volunteer and help people vote. There will be time for live Q&A at the end of the discussion.

You will receive the Zoom information in an email before the event.

Please RSVP as soon as possible! Only the first 100 RSVPs can join us for the Town Hall.


Time to Sign Up for Advocacy Day

April 3, 2018

LGBTQ Advocacy Day in Springfield is next week. Please join us.

Register today for Wednesday, April 11 to talk to lawmakers about the Inclusive Curriculum Bill to teach students the historical events and contributions by LGBTQ people.

There are citizen advocates driving and car pooling from all corners of Illinois or arriving on our bus from Chicago. The bus departs at 6am from Equality Illinois at 16 N. Wabash Ave. and at 6:35am from Affinity Community Services, 2850 S. Wabash Ave.



Vote Tuesday to Support LGBTQ-Supportive Officials

March 19, 2018

Your vote on Tuesday could make the difference in electing LGBTQ-supportive public officials.

To learn your polling place, click HERE.

To learn more about candidates endorsed for their commitments to LGBTQ equality, please click HERE.

With strong headwinds on the national level against LGBTQ civil rights, it is important to vote to make sure Illinois retains its pro-LGBTQ leadership.


Vote Early This St. Patrick’s Day Weekend

March 16, 2018

On St. Patrick’s Day, take a few minutes to vote early for the Illinois Primary. There are polling places open this weekend throughout Illinois. Find locations and hours HERE.

We have seen important elections swing on a handful of votes, so your vote could make the difference in electing LGBTQ-friendly officials.

With strong headwinds on the national level against LGBTQ civil rights, it is important to vote to make sure Illinois retains its pro-LGBTQ leadership.



Sign Up Today! LGBTQ Advocacy Day is a month away

March 12, 2018

LGBTQ Advocacy Day in Springfield is a month away, and we’re happy to announce that Affinity Community Services is a community partner and second bus pickup location for the April 11 day trip to Springfield.

One of our priority issues will be the Inclusive Curriculum Bill, an initiative of Equality Illinois and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, to teach students the historical events and contributions by LGBTQ people. An LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum can also have a positive affect on students’ self-image and make their peers more accepting.

LGBTQ Advocacy Day includes lobbying training, meetings with legislators, and a visit to the Capitol, plus a box lunch and concluding reception. Registration includes transportation selection: bus from two locations in Chicago or driving on your own, including car pooling and ride sharing. The bus departs at 6am from Equality Illinois in the Loop at 16 N. Wabash Ave., and from Affinity Community Services, 2850 S. Wabash Ave., at 6:35am.


Vote Early in Illinois

March 10, 2018

Early Voting for the March 20 Illinois primary continues, including at many locations this weekend. Click to find convenient locations and hours in all 102 Illinois counties plus municipal election authorities. Remember, some cities such as Chicago have their own election authorities.



Inclusive Curriculum Bill Introduced to Teach LGBTQ History

February 16, 2018

The Illinois Inclusive Curriculum Bill is introduced in the state legislature, an initiative of Equality Illinois and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance and sponsored by state Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago and state Rep. Anna Moeller, of Elgin, so students will learn about the significant historical events and contributions by LGBTQ people.

Some examples: The nation’s first gay rights organization, the Society for Human Rights, was formed in 1924 in Chicago. Illinoisan Jane Addams, the mother of social work, founder of the Hull House, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, was in a committed 40-year relationship with her partner, Mary Rozet Smith. The organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, was a gay man. And Sally Ride, the first U.S. woman in space, was a lesbian.

The Illinois School Code already ensures inclusion in history curriculum of the contributions and experiences of other historically marginalized communities, including of people of color, women, immigrant communities, and people with disabilities, so the Illinois Inclusive Curriculum Bill is consistent with current state law and our shared Illinois values of inclusion and respect.



LGBTQ Boards and Commissions Project

October 31, 2017

Equality Illinois seeks to build the policy and political power of LGBTQ Illinoisans by linking qualified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people to openings on key state boards and commissions.

The Boards and Commissions Initiative seeks to enhance the visibility and public leadership of LGBTQ Illinoisans on the important state boards and commissions that are instrumental to the operation of state government and drive major policy decisions.

LGBTQ individuals interested in lending their talents to the state through service on a board or commission can submit their information to Equality Illinois. Equality Illinois will focus on appointments to panels that have power over five key areas that intersect with the needs and priorities of LGBTQ communities: civil rights and civic engagement, economic development, education, health and human services, and public safety and criminal justice but will also encourage service on any board of interest to an LGBTQ Illinoisan.



Equality Illinois PAC Makes First 2018 Endorsements

October 19, 2017

The Equality Illinois PAC is endorsing 32 incumbent legislators in its first round of endorsements as the state heads into the 2018 election cycle.

The Equality Illinois PAC is the only statewide political entity dedicated to defending and securing the rights of LGBTQ Illinoisans though engagement in the electoral process.



Equality Illinois Urges Action on LGBTQ Civil Rights Agenda

May 28, 2017

Equality Illinois is hopeful that the General Assembly will act in its final days of the spring session to pass bills advancing LGBTQ civil rights, as well as passage, finally, of a responsible budget with adequate revenues to fund essential programs for all Illinoisans.

EI Director of Public Policy Michael Ziri and our advocacy team are talking to lawmakers to push for passage of bills such as HB 1785 to modernize the standard of birth certificate changes to help transgender Illinoisans and SB 1761 to end the anti-LGBTQ panic defenses in murder cases.

As the last hours of the session unfold, stay on top of legislation important to LGBTQ Illinoisans on our Facebook page and Twitter feed, and here on our web page.



LGBTQ Public Service Bill Sent to Governor

May 24, 2017

Our LGBTQ Public Service Bill passed the Illinois House on a bipartisan 95-12 vote Wednesday afternoon. The next step is the Governor’s Desk, and we are calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign the measure.

Thank you to state Rep. Will Guzzardi and state Sen. Scott Bennett for their leadership.

The legislation (SB 1670), one of Equality Illinois’ priorities during this session of the General Assembly, allows a person to voluntarily self-identify as LGBTQ when they apply for a spot on a state board or commission. Applicants already self-identify their ethnicity, gender, and disability status. The new data will be included in an existing annual report compiled by the Governor’s Office.

SB 1670 is all about data and leadership. The bill helps policymakers gather the necessary information to know whether Illinoisans of all backgrounds are inspired to lend their strengths and talents to the service of our state.


‘Spring to Action’ Agenda Focuses on Local Events

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



On the case as new General Assembly opens

January 11, 2017

springfield-2017As the 100th Illinois General Assembly convenes its two-year session on Wednesday, Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson and Director of Public Policy Michael Ziri are on the case in Springfield representing LGBTQ Illinoisans.

Brian and Mike are working with our legislative allies and alongside partner organizations to make sure no pernicious bills become law and to fight for fair, equal and just treatment for all Illinoisans.

Stay updated about Equality Illinois’ advocacy work on Facebook or by bookmarking this website equalityillinois.org.


2 things you can do after the election

November 9, 2016

post-election-messageThe results of the 2016 election were devastating to so many Americans.

We in the LGBTQ community know that if we do not stand up for other historically marginalized groups when they are attacked, we will have no one left to stand up for us when we are attacked. That is why we are calling on our champions and allies to publicly and proudly support groups most under attack.

To that end we have established donation pages so that the LGBTQ community of Illinois can stand up with a consolidated voice in support of immigrants, Muslims, and victims of sexual assault: Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.



November 8, 2016


It’s Election Day in Illinois. Here, our progress is the result of our victories at the ballot box. That’s why, when you vote today, it’s important to support every candidate in your community who champions the LGBTQ community. Your voting location is open until 7 p.m.

Don’t know where to vote? Find out HERE.

Don’t know which candidates to support? Check out the Equality Illinois PAC’s list of endorsed pro-LGBTQ candidates

When you wake up tomorrow, don’t regret that you didn’t exercise your voice to advance LGBTQ equality and justice.

It’s time to vote.


Taking it to the voting booth

November 4, 2016
An election message from CEO Brian C. Johnson

vote-early-today-500x419314 votes. That’s it. Rep. Mike Smiddy won re-election in 2014 by only 314 votes.

In November 2013, when Rep. Smiddy–who hails from tiny Hillsdale (population 588)–was a freshman legislator in the Illinois House, he voted for marriage equality. In a western Illinois district where the consequences of his courageous vote were unclear, he stood up for our community.  When marriage equality passed the Illinois House by just one vote, it became clear that Rep. Smiddy’s vote was essential to ensuring the freedom to marry in Illinois.

This summer, when I had lunch with Rep. Smiddy at Barrel House, a restaurant in Moline, I asked him why he cast that vote when it could have cost him his political career.  He simply responded, “Because it was the right thing to do.”

In 2014, he almost didn’t get re-elected.  314 votes were all that stood between the LGBTQ community having a champion of our equality in the 71st District and an uncertain future for us in the General Assembly.


In a time when the stakes for our country are so high, it can be easy to focus on the critical national races. But right now, there are over 1,900 people running for public office in Illinois.  They are seeking out roles that will govern every aspect of our lives: how we are treated in schools, what services our most vulnerable community members have access to, how sustainable our future will be.

Some of these candidates see our move toward equality as a threat and will work hard to cut back on our hard-fought victories. They want to introduce legislation that will stigmatize our transgender children in school or legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people.

And others, like Rep. Mike Smiddy, are working tirelessly to support our community to move to the full equality and acceptance we deserve.


Election Day is November 8. I ask you to stand up for LGBTQ equality and vote, whether that be this week at Early Vote Stations or on Election Day. And don’t just vote for the candidate you support for President or U.S. Senate, but vote for every candidate in your community who is willing to champion the LGBTQ community. If you are unsure whom to support, check out the list of pro-LGBTQ candidates the Equality Illinois PAC has endorsed.  Show our state that when elected officials stand up for our community – and candidates publicly support our community – we stand with them in solidarity!




Vote Early This Week

October 29, 2016

early-voting-fbEarly voting continues this weekend in many locations throughout Illinois. If not this weekend, vote early during the week. And you can register and vote, too.

It’s easy. Our CEO Brian C. Johnson, Director of Education and Outreach Anthony Galloway, and Director of Development Eric Wilkerson have already voted early. And President Obama, too!

Your early vote allows your favorite candidates to concentrate resources on those who haven’t been to the polls yet.

Find locations and hours in every Illinois county and voting jurisdiction.



40 Law Firms Recognized for ‘Raising the Bar’

July 25, 2016

Raising the Bar 2016Forty Illinois law firms that lead the way in providing a welcoming and fair work environment for LGBT employees and engaging with the LGBT community are being recognized by Equality Illinois for “Raising the Bar” in 2016.

In a growing and welcoming trend that helps spread fair and equal treatment, the annual Equality Illinois Law Firm Survey found that not only are the law firms creating affirming work spaces for their own employees, but they are increasingly demanding that the same respect be demonstrated by the vendors and contractors with whom they work.

“Law firms–as institutions that make the practice of law their business–play a particularly salient role in advancing LGBT equality. When law firms not only fight for equality and inclusiveness, but mirror the world they hope to see within their own offices, they send a powerful message about the importance of fully embracing all coworkers and staff equally,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.




July 15, 2016

Governor Mike Pence V2With his selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as the Republican vice presidential nominee, Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee for president, is demonstrating a callous disregard for LGBT Americans and our families.

As a private citizen, a member of Congress and in the Indiana statehouse, Gov. Pence has rejected recognizing that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are equal under the law and under standards of human decency.

Pence opposed federal HIV funding, he supported “gay conversion” therapy, he opposed marriage equality, and he promoted state-sanctioned LGBT discrimination.



Proud and Humbled

June 1, 2016
Brian C. Johnson

Brian C. Johnson

A message from Brian C. Johnson, new Equality Illinois CEO:

Today, I am both proud to begin my service and humbled to build off 25 years of amazing work to lead Equality Illinois into our next phase.

Our fight for equality is far from over. From challenges facing transgender people and LGBT youth to protecting our many wins, we must continue fighting as a united voice until we have achieved full equality and acceptance.

During this anniversary year, we have a unique opportunity to reconnect with our community, expand our inclusiveness and talk one on one with stakeholders about their hopes and fears for the future. This is why I am excited to announce a summer-long listening tour that will take me on the road to cities, towns and neighborhoods across Illinois.



Gov. Rauner, Legislators Meet with Transgender Advocates

April 17, 2016
Gov. Rauner meets with transgender student Finn DeLima

Gov. Rauner meets with transgender student Finn DeLima

Advocates from Equality Illinois and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago–including a transgender university student and the mother of a transgender child–met with Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislators in Springfield to advance a pro-LGBT equality agenda during the spring session of the General Assembly.

In a meeting in the Governor’s Office arranged by Equality Illinois, the advocates urged the governor to support a bill to modernize birth certificate changes for transgender Illinoisans (HB 6073), to oppose a second measure that would stigmatize and discriminate against transgender students (HB 4474), and to adopt a responsible budget that protects vital services for Illinoisans.



Equality Act Sponsor to Keynote Equality Con

April 12, 2016

Cicilline EI ConWe are excited to announce that U.S. Rep. David Cicilline is the EqualityCon 2016 keynote speaker. Rep. Cicilline as the Chief Sponsor of the Equality Act, the federal LGBT civil rights bill.

Registration is now open for EqualityCon 2016, hosted by Equality Illinois Institute, to be held at the University of Illinois at Chicago on May 13-14.

Together with community support, we’re building an agenda with a wide range of session topics and discussions. With conversations on everything from racial justice to transgender equality, safety in schools to finding equality in faith communities, education on wellness and guidance on financial security, and breaking through barriers on passing state and federal policies, we will have something for everyone.