People living with HIV in Illinois could win gift card taking Illinois HIV Care Connect quiz

SPRINGFIELD — People living with HIV in Illinois have the opportunity to win one of 20 Amazon gift cards, valued at $25 each, by taking Illinois HIV Care Connect’s “Good Health Is More Than Health Care” Quiz by Feb. 15, the Illinois Public Health Association announced Thursday. People living with HIV in Illinois are encouraged to review the “Good Health Is More Than Health Care” web content before taking the quiz. The content and a link to the quiz can be found at https://hivcareconnect.com/good-health. The quiz can be found at https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4562185/Good-Health-Is-More-Than-Health-Care-Quiz.

Greg Harris named state House Majority Leader

SPRINGFIELD — Greg Harris, an out gay state representative, has just been named as House Majority Leader by Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan. Harris, 62, is the first out House Majority Leader in Illinois history, capping off a string of first for LGBTQ people in politics in the state, including the first gay county commissioner, first gay county sheriff and first gay African-American state representative. “In 1997, I asked Barbara Flynn Currie to serve as the state’s first female majority leader,” Madigan said in a statement from the state Democratic Party. “Following in her historic tenure, today’s appointment again represents House Democrats’ commitment to building an inclusive, welcoming Legislature where all are represented. As the first openly gay majority leader, Representative Harris will also continue to reflect our caucus’ commitment to working across the aisle and making the tough decisions.”

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg to keynote Equality Illinois 2019 Gala

CHICAGO — Equality Illinois announced today that South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, a rising national star among Democrats, will be the keynote speaker at the 2019 Gala presented by United, set to begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 2 at the Hilton Chicago. The Washington Post called him “the most interesting Mayor you’ve never heard of” and the New York Times ran a column saying that he could be the nation’s “first gay President.” Additionally, President Obama named him one of four Democrats who represented the future of the Democratic Party. “We are thrilled to announce that Mayor Pete will be joining us at the 2019 Gala,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s LGBTQ civil rights organization. “Mayor Pete’s leadership and energy to enact change both in Indiana and on the national level is exciting and we are proud to welcome him. As an elected Democrat in a traditionally ‘red’ Midwest state, an openly gay male, and war veteran, he will bring a very relevant and insightful message to all in attendance.”

Mayor Pete was first elected mayor in 2011 at only 29 years old, and re-elected in 2015 with 80% of the vote.

Getting to Zero Illinois wants public feedback

SPRINGFIELD — Getting to Zero Illinois (GTZ-IL) is looking for public feedback on their draft plan to eliminate new HIV infections in Illinois. From the website:
Getting to Zero Illinois (GTZ-IL) has developed a draft plan for 2019-2023, detailing a path toward virtually eliminating new HIV transmissions and improving overall health care access in Illinois by 2030. Getting to Zero means virtually zero new HIV infections and zero people living with HIV who are not receiving treatment — a goal that will depend on major proposed changes across the health care and human services spectrum. The GTZ-IL Draft Plan can be viewed in its entirety at gtzillinois.hiv/draft. Public comment on the draft plan is welcome and open until Jan.

Federal court and monitor to oversee overhaul of unconstitutional health care in Illinois prisons

CHICAGO – Just days before the opening of trial in Lippert v. Baldwin – a case challenging the inadequate and dismal quality of health care provided in Illinois prisons – the parties reached an agreement to resolve the case. The agreement, which is embodied in a consent decree and must be approved by the court, is the latest development in a case first filed as an individual complaint in 2010. As part of the decree, which was filed in court today, the State of Illinois has agreed to a court-approved monitor who will oversee a complete overhaul of the system for providing physical health care to some 40,000 state prisoners.  The State and the monitor will create a staffing plan for health care professionals in Illinois’ prisons, a plan that addresses the number of medical and dental professionals needed at these facilities, as well as an implementation plan for numerous other system-wide reforms.  The agreement contains specific, detailed professional qualifications for physicians and also calls for improvements to health care space and equipment, for new staff dedicated to oversight and infection control, for the implementation of an electronic medical record system, and for the development of a stringent quality assurance program, so that the system can identify and address problems in the delivery of health care before they cause problems for patients. In the course of pursuing this lawsuit, two court-appointed experts (reporting four years apart) found serious and profound problems in the health care provided in Illinois’ prisons. The most recent report – made public just last month – blamed the poor system for preventable deaths inside Illinois facilities.

U.S. Senator Durbin says he will run again in 2020

WASHINGTON — Dick Durbin, the senior U.S. Senator from Illinois, has announced he would run for re-election in 2020, The Hill reported Thursday. From The Hill:
Asked on CNN’s “New Day” whether he would run for reelection in 2020, Durbin replied that he would, adding that his response shouldn’t be taken “as a formal announcement.”

“What I’ve said is, I’m raising money and I’m trying to lose a few pounds, and that’s a good indicator that I’m looking forward to 2020,” Durbin told CNN’s John Berman. Durbin, 74, would almost certainly coast to an easy reelection in Democratic-leaning Illinois. The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, currently puts Durbin’s reelection prospects in the “Solid Democrat” column. He has won reelection by double digits since entering the Senate in 1997, and his post as the second highest-ranking Democrat in the chamber gives him a difficult-to-match political and fundraising platform.

Illinois prison officials move transgender woman to women’s prison

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has moved Strawberry Hampton, a 27-year-old transgender woman, from the all-male prisons where she was held, to Logan Correctional Center, a women’s prison. This comes after a year of IDOC rejecting Ms. Hampton and her lawyers’ pleas, and opposing a lawsuit that sought this transfer. Ms. Hampton has suffered repeated abuse and sexual assaults in various male prisons. “Strawberry has fought every day to be free from sexual violence and to have the IDOC recognize that she is a woman,” said Vanessa del Valle of the MacArthur Justice Center. “This transfer, which occurred after a year of hard fought litigation and two emergency hearings, is a victory for her and a testament to her strength and courage.

Equality Illinois to honor Danny Wirtz, Channyn Lynne Parker and the Illinois AFL-CIO at annual gala

CHICAGO–For their dedication to social justice and equality, Danny Wirtz, Channyn Lynne Parker and the Illinois AFL-CIO will be honored at the 2019 Equality Illinois Gala.  Community leader Nabeela Rasheed will serve as the Chair of the 2019 Gala. More than 1,200 attendees, including more than 100 political figures and community VIPs, are expected to celebrate the accomplishments that advanced LGBTQ civil rights over the last year and hear about Equality Illinois’ work ahead in 2019. “The Gala is also an opportunity for LGBTQ and allied Illinoisans to celebrate our historic wins and for Equality Illinois to share our vision for a more inclusive and affirming Illinois” Johnson said.  The Gala serves as the single-largest fundraising event for the Equality Illinois Institute, fueling the ongoing educational and outreach work for LGBTQ equality throughout the state of Illinois. The 2019 Gala will be chaired by attorney and community leader Nabeela Rasheed.  Nabeela has been a longstanding & passionate advocate for diversity, inclusion and freedom in Chicago.  She has worked with and supported Legal Council for Health Justice for over a decade and is currently a member of the Chicago Commission for Human Relations.  In the wake of the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub in 2016, Rasheed was a founder of the Trust Collective, a Chicago gathering of key members of the LGBTQ, Muslim, LatinX, and other communities seeking to form bridges among marginalized communities. Rasheed is proud to serve as Chair of the Equality Illinois Gala and bring together diverse communities in full support of full equality for all LGBTQ Illinoisans.  “I am a biochemist by training, I am a lawyer by profession, I am British by birth, I am Pakistani by heritage, I am American by choice, I am an immigrant, I am a Lesbian and I am a proud Muslim.  You can’t have one part of me without having and honoring all those other identities,” Rasheed said.  “I am honored to work with Equality Illinois as they stand up in support of so many communities of which I am a part.”

“United Airlines, the Presenting Sponsor of the Equality Illinois Gala and the Exclusive Airline of Equality Illinois since 2014, is a longtime champion of our work and of LGBTQ rights,” Johnson said.

Illinois Family Action freaks out about Satanic display at state capitol

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Family Action, part of the far-right Illinois Family Institute, did not react well to the Satanic Temple of Chicago putting up a display at the Illinois State Capitol. So they’re trying to get it out. The group had a rather long freak out about the display. Here’s the highlights:
Satanists may have a legal right to do this, but they do not have a moral right. The general silence of Christians and their leaders over the years has clearly emboldened them – to the detriment of us all.