ordinance 1988For nearly two decades, Equality Illinois has led the charge to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. We were founded by activists who fought to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the City of Chicago, which passed in 1988.

There is a renewed movement in the U.S. to pass a comprehensive non-discrimination law, and the federal Equality Act was introduced in Congress on July 23, 2015. Click here to read more about the national effort to pass the Equality Act.

At the state level, Equality Illinois spearheaded the successful effort to outlaw discrimination against LGBT Illinoisans with the passage of an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act in 2005. Because of our work, the State now prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

To learn more about the requirements of the Illinois Human Rights Act or to file an employment discrimination complaint, visit the Illinois Department of Human Rights website  (En Español).

Equality Illinois worked with smaller communities over the years to pass non-discrimination ordinances, including the cities of Bloomington, Decatur, DeKalb, Peoria, and Springfield. We also worked with numerous corporations in establishing non-discrimination policies, as well as domestic partnership benefits, for their employees.

Nationally, there is no comprehensive federal non-discrimination law protecting LGBTQ Americans, though there are federal rules and policies prohibiting discrimination regarding some specific topics.

However, in April, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in matters of employment regardless of the worker’s sexual orientation. The decision applies to Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

State laws aren’t much better when it comes to protection against discrimination. More than 206 million people – 65 percent of Americans – live in states where LGBTQ people have no explicit statewide workplace protections that include sexual orientation and gender identity. Twenty-seven states have no anti-discrimination laws for LGBTQ individuals that apply to public accommodations.

On the federal level, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has been proposed in nearly every Congress since 1994, and a more comprehensive Equality Act was introduced in 2015 to protect against discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system.

President Obama signs executive order prohibiting workplace discrimination by federal contractors against LGBT employees

President Obama signs executive order prohibiting workplace discrimination by federal contractors against LGBT employees

With Congress not acting on the need for federal protections, President Obama signed an executive order in July, 2014, prohibiting employment discrimination by federal contractors and subcontractors against LGBTQ workers. Its effective date was April 8, 2015. President Trump has said he will not rescind the executive order but the White House has indicated he may change it to allow for a broad religious exemption.

Learn more about the executive order at the U.S. Department of Labor website.

The Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination in providing health care and insurance.

Passing the federal Equality Act is necessary as LGBTQ people continue to face adversity and discrimination in the workplace and public accommodations, even in many states where there is marriage equality. Fewer than half of the states have enacted non-discrimination policies protecting employees based on sexual orientation, and even fewer have provisions making discrimination against transgender workers illegal. Therefore, a comprehensive national policy dealing with anti-LGBTQ discrimination is crucial. Every employee or potential employee should be treated with consistency based on merit and performance.

Read each category under the ISSUES tab for more details and access to agencies that can provide assistance.