CHICAGO–Chicago Human Relations Commissioner Mona Noriega and Personal PAC CEO Terry Cosgrove will be the 2017 recipients of the Equality Illinois Freedom Award for their lifelong commitment to fighting for the civil rights and personal freedoms of all Illinoisans, the organization announced Monday. The recognition will be made at the Equality Illinois 2017 Gala, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ formal celebration, to be held on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at the Hilton Chicago. “Mona Noriega and Terry Cosgrove epitomize the criteria for the Equality Illinois Freedom Award, which was created to honor individuals and organizations who demonstrate remarkable vision, courage, and leadership in the effort to achieve full equality for LGBTQ individuals in Illinois,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest LGBTQ civil rights organization. Starting as a citizen activist in the late 1970s, Mona Noriega organized events to help women build their community and was a trailblazer for advocacy for Latina lesbians. In 1993, she went to work for Lambda Legal, the national legal organization fighting for LGBTQ rights, where she helped to establish the Midwest office and served as the Midwest Regional Director.
CHICAGO — For its dedication to improving the lives of LGBTQ Illinoisans, Equality Illinois will honor the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago with its Business Leadership Award. The recognition will be made at the Equality Illinois 2017 Gala, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ formal celebration, to be held on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at the Hilton Chicago, the organization announced Thursday. More than 1,400 attendees, including more than 100 political figures and community VIPs, are expected to celebrate the accomplishments that advanced LGBTQ rights over the last year and hear a call to arms about the challenges that remain in our fight for full equality for all Illinoisans. The Gala will also mark the beginning of Equality Illinois’ second quarter century of service to LGBTQ Illinoisans. “What better way to launch our second 25 years than to honor Lurie Children’s Hospital for its belief that LGBTQ people must be treated with dignity and respect and afforded the level of care and service that is needed for them to live full and equal lives,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.
CHICAGO — Amid concerns and fears that a Trump presidency will set back gains for LGBTQ Americans and other marginalized groups, Illinois LGBTQ and other supportive advocacy, health and service organizations have scheduled a forum on the possible responses to the new administration. The free, public event is set for 6-8 pm on Monday, Nov. 28, 2016 in the Lake View Presbyterian Church, 716 W. Addison St., Chicago. Though not required, free advance registration is encouraged to ensure that adequate resources are in place in the church. Sign up is at http://tinyurl.com/LGBTQresponse.
CHICAGO — The results of the 2016 election were devastating to so many Americans.
We at Equality Illinois don’t say this because we have differing views than the president-elect on major policy questions; we acknowledge that members of our community have a diverse range of views on key policy matters. The election was so devastating because we have elected to the presidency a man who has publicly targeted immigrants, children and grandchildren of immigrants, Muslims, the disabled, women, and many others. The election was so devastating because we have elected to the vice presidency a man who served as a key architect in an attempt to legalize religious discrimination against the LGBTQ community in every facet of our public lives. And even more alarming, these candidates, now our President-elect and Vice President-elect, have whipped up and legitimized a fear-based world view which pits a large base of Americans against many historically marginalized groups in our country. The cornerstone of our evolving equality and liberty as an LGBTQ community is the broad belief that we as a country are better off when we expand notions of basic fairness and decent treatment to those whose identities differ from our own. That belief has been under attack this election season, and last night it lost. Still, we know that our country is stronger than any one campaign or even any one presidency. We believe deeply in the American people and our democratic institutions. Even though we are alarmed today, we acknowledge that as of the writing of this letter, more Americans voted for a message of inclusion and strength in diversity. Now is the time to deepen our commitment to building bridges not putting up walls. We call on all our LGBTQ stakeholders and allies to take two actions today in support of a brighter more equal America.
CHICAGO — The Equality Illinois PAC (EI PAC) is endorsing 51 candidates, including Susana Mendoza for Illinois State Comptroller and state legislative candidates, in the general election on November 8, 2016, the statewide LGBT political action committee announced Wednesday. “Throughout her career, Susana Mendoza has stood with LGBT Illinoisans,” said Nicole Bashor, Chair of the Equality Illinois PAC. “As a state legislator, she supported LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections in 2005 and civil unions in 2010. We are proud to endorse Mendoza for Illinois State Comptroller.”
In state legislative races, the EI PAC endorsed 11 candidates for the Illinois Senate (including 8 incumbents) and 35 candidates for the Illinois House of Representatives (including 24 incumbents). The endorsed incumbent legislators have stood with the LGBT community as the struggle for fair and equal treatment continued beyond the fight for marriage equality.
CHICAGO–Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan today joined 12 other attorneys general throughout the U.S. in support of the Obama Administration’s policies that advance the equal treatment and protection of transgender Americans in workplaces and schools, a move applauded by Equality Illinois. “Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is standing firm for the equal rights of transgender Illinoisans, especially students. In signing this bold brief in support of the Obama Administration’s trans-inclusive policies, Attorney General Madigan’s position is rooted in the best traditions of the Land of Lincoln,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. Since 2006, Illinois has protected transgender Illinoisans from the very real and pervasive discrimination that they face every day in life.
CHICAGO — Equality Illinois on Friday reacted to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump selecting Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate. The gay rights organization focused on Pence’s long anti-LGBT record. From EI’s executive director Brian Johnson:
With 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. In March 2015, we in Illinois watched in shock as Gov. Pence signed into law a bill that established discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers as statewide policy.
CHICAGO–Of the many personal, medical and legal challenges faced by transgender Illinoisans, Equality Illinois, The John Marshall Law School and the Seyfarth Shaw law firm are teaming up to try to make the legal issues a little easier to manage. Equality Illinois and John Marshall are launching a Gender Marker and Name Change Legal Project to help people work through the maze of county, state and federal government offices, their forms and the fees they must navigate to live their true gender identity. The program will be assisted by Seyfarth Shaw. “We are excited to initiate this great partnership with The John Marshall Law School and its students in the school’s Pro Bono Program and Clinic and with Seyfarth Shaw,” said Brian C. Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Illinois, which is now celebrating its 25th year advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Illinoisans. “By establishing the gender marker and name change project, the law school is helping transgender Illinoisans navigate a sometimes confusing and intimidating legal process while also educating law students how an action like a name or gender marker correction can help improve someone’s life,” Johnson said.
CHICAGO — As LGBT Pride Month begins today, Brian C. Johnson assumes the leadership of Equality Illinois with a pledge to expand the organization’s inclusiveness by launching a summer-long, statewide listening tour to talk to community leaders, allies and stakeholders in the ongoing fight for social justice. Johnson takes over as chief executive officer as Equality Illinois is celebrating its 25th year advocating for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans. “Our community has come so far during this time and has much to be proud of thanks to the tenacity and sacrifices made by many in the Equality Illinois family,” Johnson said. “However, 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.