Mission & Accomplishments

Equality Illinois …


Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov in the Executive Mansion after the marriage bill passed on Nov. 5, 2013
On Nov. 5, 2013, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (right) and Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov celebrated in the Executive Mansion after the marriage bill passed

•  Successfully pursued state legislative action on the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which passed in 2013 and is in effect as of June 1, 2014, bringing marriage equality to Illinois, when all loving, committed Illinois couples and their families are eligible for the more than 1,100 federal rights and benefits that come from marriage, and the couples have the same recognition that opposite-sex couples have enjoyed. After the introduction of civil unions, Equality Illinois conducted an assessment that found that civil unions were not enough to ensure the equal rights and privileges promised to same-sex couples in Illinois under the civil union law.

•  Promoted, lobbied for, won passage, and defended the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (civil union law) in 2010, which sought to provide the same benefits, obligations and responsibilities of marriage (under state law). The major benefits include hospital visitation, healthcare decision making, inheritance and probate rights. However, its shortcomings demonstrated the need for full marriage equality.

At a meeting with LGBTQ leaders in the Equality Illinois office on Sept. 28, 2017, Gov. Bruce Rauner (on left) signs ceremonial copies of pro-LGBTQ measures for Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson

•  In 2017, worked in coalition to lobby for and win passage of the Birth Certificate Modernization Law so transgender Illinoisans can update the gender marker on their birth certificates under current medical standards, which do not necessitate surgery. Equality Illinois also helped pass the Panic Defense Ban so a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be used as a defense in a murder charge. Another Equality Illinois Initiative, the Public Service Law, requires the governor to report the number of LGBTQ appointees to state boards and commissions.

•  Worked in coalition with partner groups to advance and pass the Safe Schools Act, which was signed into law in June 2010, and have subsequently worked to strengthen the law.

•  Promoted, lobbied for, and won passage of amendments to the Human Rights Act in 2005, prohibiting discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity.

•  Lobbied for and won passage in 2015 of a ban on conversion therapy of LGBTQ minors by public health professionals.

•  Lobbied for and won passage of a bill enhancing hate crime protections in 2015, adding gender identity to the protected classes that previously included sexual orientation.

•  Lobbied for and won passage of a bill to ban the anti-LGBTQ panic defense in murder cases in 2017.

•  Lobbied for and won passage of a bill in 2017 to modernize the Illinois birth certificate law so transgender and intersex Illinoisans are no longer required to have surgery before being allowed to correct their birth certificate.

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton at an Equality Illinois reception in 2016

•  Lobbied for and won passage of a bill in 2017 to build LGBTQ membership on state boards and commissions and create a path for LGBTQ Illinoisans to run for office.

•  Lobbied for and won passage of a bill in 2015 to require funeral directors to followed the final funeral and burial wishes of transgender Illinoisans.

•  Developed a ground breaking “Get Out the Vote” campaign, Vote Naked Illinois, which received extensive media coverage statewide and around the globe. The campaign led to over 75,000 mail-in votes in the 2010 election in Cook County/City of Chicago alone.

•  Registered thousands of new Illinois voters, and developed a strong network of over 40,000 human rights supporters throughout Illinois and beyond.

•  Educated and informed citizens of Illinois and members of the General Assembly, and worked to raise awareness of issues confronting LGBTQ individuals in the community and the workplace.

•  Expanded statewide grassroots support for LGBTQ issues and initiatives, individually, as well as in partnership with religious institutions and other community organizations.

•  Targeted information and services to populations that have been disenfranchised, such as women, minorities and youth.

•  Assisted businesses in development of welcoming and inclusive workplace policies.

•  Conducted polls and surveys of public attitudes on civil rights issues.

•  Educated the media and encouraged public discussion about these issues.

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