Illinois passes LGBTQ panic defense ban, birth certificate law

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois General Assembly passed two pieces of legislation on Wednesday, May 31: A bill banning the “gay panic” defense and a law making it easier to update birth certificates. House Bill 1785, a measure to modernize Illinois law allowing people to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, passed the Senate Wednesday night 32-22. Having previously passed in the House, the bill now goes to Gov. Rauner’s desk for his signature. It was sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights). “”No one should face the dilemma of being denied a birth certificate that conforms with their gender simply because they are unable – or cannot afford – to undergo surgery that the medical community agrees is not necessary for everyone who transitions,” John Knight, Director of the ACLU of Illinois’ LGBT and HIV Project, said in a statement.

Illinois House passes bill to modernize state’s birth certificate law

SPRINGFIELD – A measure to modernize Illinois law allowing people to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, House Bill 1785, passed the House by a vote of 63 to 43 on Thursday and was sent to the Senate. If the bill is signed into law, Illinois would join fourteen other states and the District of Columbia in allowing people who are transgender and intersex to change the gender marker on their birth certificate. State Rep. Greg Harris, chief House sponsor of HB1785:

“Today we took a big step to modernize our state’s half-century-old law on how transgender people correct their birth certificates. I want to thank those who voted yes to conform our laws with federal and other state requirements. This is so important for people who now more than ever need to be sure that their identifying documents are in order.”

John Knight, Director of the ACLU of Illinois’ LGBT and HIV Project:

“House Bill 1785 protects Illinoisans facing the unnecessary choice between living without a birth certificate that reflects who they are and undergoing surgery that they may not want or need.

EqualityCon 2017, May 6

SPRINGFIELD — Join the Equality Illinois Institute for EqualityCon 2017 on May 6 in Springfield. EqualityCon brings together Illinois’ LGBTQ community and allies, progressive advocates, civic leaders, and community groups to train and share insights on how to make Illinois and the nation more just and equal. FRIDAY, May 5
EqualityCon Reception: Club Station House
306 East Washington Street
5:00pm until 7:00pm (Hosted by the Phoenix Center of Springfield)

Check-in opens at 8:30AM
Breakfast on your own

10:00 – 10:50am: Opening Plenary
MCs: Jonna Cooley, Phoenix Center, Anthony Galloway, Equality Illinois
Welcome | Springfield Mayor James O. Langfelder
Charge of the Conference | Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson
Opening Address | Shannon Price Minter, National Center for Lesbian Rights

11:00 – 11:50am: Breakout #1
Organizing with Religious Leaders against License to Discriminate Bills Panel Discussion | Dr. Johari Jabir, Associate Professor at University of Illinois at Chicago, Jean Saloan, Peoria Insight Meditation, Stephanie Skora, Jewish Trans Activist. Panel Description: This group of esteemed panelists will talk about groups and individuals can engage religious and non-traditional religious entities in engaging these groups in changing policies on non-discrimination against LGBTQ communities. “Growing Your Family: A Guide for Prospective LGBTQ Foster Parents” | Jane Kelly and Claudia Mosier, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services; Elizabeth & Caroline Fox Anvick, subject matter experts

Workshop Description: This workshop discuss DCFS department initiatives – Immersion Site involving all stakeholders.

Pro-LGBTQ candidates win in local elections

CHICAGO–The Equality Illinois PAC celebrates major pro-LGBTQ victories in Tuesday’s local and school board elections, including the election of pro-trans school board candidates in races contested by anti-equality opponents and the election of six LGBTQ-identified candidates in Berwyn. In Palatine-based High School District 211, incumbents Anna Klimkowicz and Robert LeFevre and challenger Edward Yung prevailed in a field of six candidates. The EI PAC endorsed Klimkowicz, LeFevre, and Yung. In Elgin-based School District 46, three pro-LGBTQ candidates endorsed by the EI PAC cruised to victory. “What Tuesday’s election results have shown us–in communities throughout Illinois–is that standing up for the LGBTQ community is not just the right thing to do, it is also good politics,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.

Equality Illinois

Equality Illinois LGBTQ Town Halls launch in Central and Southern Illinois

NORMAL — With Illinoisans facing uncertainty about LGBTQ rights in the Trump era and push back in some parts of the state as they try to assert their rights, Equality Illinois LGBTQ Town Halls launch Tuesday night in Bloomington-Normal and continue Wednesday night in Peoria. Future town halls are scheduled in Carbondale and the Metro East area. “The laws that guarantee legal equality in Illinois still do not always create a true, open, lived equality for the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people and our families,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. “It’s not enough to simply join the fight against the anti-LGBTQ actions of the Trump administration in Washington. We must simultaneously build a more fair and just Illinois.”

Illinois Women March on Springfield April 25 for progressive agenda, responsible budget

SPRINGFIELD — More than 50 organizations have joined a coalition to educate and organize around dozens of progressive bills being proposed in the Illinois House and Senate this session. They will bring together people across the state for the Illinois Women March on Springfield for a progressive agenda and responsible budget for all, Tuesday, April 25, 2017. The bills include the Women’s Agenda, the People’s Agenda of labor issues, plus issues including immigration, homelessness, criminal legal reform, the environment, LGBTQ, gun safety efforts, healthcare, economics, education and passing a responsible budget in Illinois. The complete agenda, with more bills expected, is available on the March website: The march is in the spirit of the Jan.

Equality Illinois

Equality Illinois PAC makes endorsements in District 211 school board races

CHICAGO — Palatine-based Township High School District 211 has become a flash point recently in the fight to protect the civil rights of transgender students. That’s why the Equality Illinois PAC (EI PAC) believes it is important to weigh in on the school board election there with the endorsements of three candidates: Anna Klimkowicz, Robert LeFevre, and Edward Yung. These candidates are being challenged by opponents who want to rescind the district’s policy that affirms transgender students and who are affiliated with an anti-LGBTQ extremist organization. The EI PAC, the statewide LGBTQ political action committee, announced the endorsements in advance of the April 4 school board election. District 211 is the largest high school district in Illinois and includes Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Palatine, and Schaumburg.

Equality Illinois

Equality Illinois condemns overturning transgender youth protections

CHICAGO – On behalf of the 53,645 stakeholders of Equality Illinois in Illinois, their resident friends and families and all who care deeply about issues of equality and fairness, Equality Illinois condemns the decision of the Trump administration to tear up the 2016 federal guidance protecting the civil rights and equal treatment of transgender youth in our public schools. “We are outraged the Trump Administration would choose to target transgender children for discrimination. Rescinding the guidance letter sends a terrible message and invites personal bias to flourish in our public schools,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. Equality Illinois reminds Illinois school districts that they should not feel free to adopt discriminatory policies despite the federal action. Title IX of the federal education law still protects transgender students, as most courts have agreed, and Illinois law prohibits discrimination in public places.

Equality Illinois

Modernizing birth certificate law to help Illinois’ transgender residents

CHICAGO – A proposal to update and modernize a more than half-century old law allowing people to change the gender marker on their Illinois birth certificate was filed today in the Illinois House. The measure, House Bill 1785, is sponsored by State Representative Greg Harris (13th District) and supported by organizations across the state, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Equality Illinois, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Howard Brown Health, Lambda Legal, and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance. Illinois first allowed persons to change the gender marker on a birth certificate in the 1950s. Under this standard, a person can only correct the gender marker if they have undergone a surgical procedure. House Bill 1785 modernizes the law by updating the standard to clinically appropriate treatment, thereby aligning Illinois law with a growing list of states and the federal government that allow the gender on birth certificates, passports, and other identification documents to be changed without surgery.