Gov. Rauner Signs LGBTQ Public Service Bill

At a time when federal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans are being rolled back at the federal level, a bill to encourage public service by LGBTQ Illinoisans has been signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The LGBTQ Public Service Bill is an initiative of Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer lllinoisans.

“Equality Illinois believes that when LGBTQ people are visible, we are powerful. The LGBTQ Public Service Bill will contribute to a leadership path for LGBTQ individuals who want to engage in public service and build a better Illinois. In turn, those officials can share our experiences and stories as LGBTQ people. That helps when we work to advance policies that are inclusive, affirming, and fair,” Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, said Monday.

“At a time when the Trump Administration is turning its back on transgender students and betraying the patriotism of transgender members of the U.S. military, representation and visibility on the local and state levels are more important than ever,” Johnson said.

The new law, Senate Bill 1670, helps the state gather necessary information to know whether Illinoisans of all backgrounds are inspired to lend their strengths and talents to public service.

The measure allows individuals who apply to serve on boards and commissions under the authority of the Governor’s Office to voluntarily self-identify as LGBTQ. Existing law already allows applicants to self-identify their gender, disability status, and ethnicity. SB 1670 also adds the new data about sexual orientation and gender identity to an existing annual report to the General Assembly of the demographic data of individuals who apply for boards and commissions and for those who are appointed. The state website appointments.illinois.gov contains information about the boards and commissions including the annual report of demographic data of the appointees.

“We are proud to have partnered with legislative sponsors Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) and Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) to promote LGBTQ public service on state boards and commissions. We thank them and Gov. Rauner for advancing LGBTQ inclusion in Illinois with the LGBTQ Public Service Bill,” Johnson said.

SB 1670, which takes effect January 1, 2018, passed the Illinois General Assembly with significant bipartisan support. The bill is part of Equality Illinois’ 2017 legislative agenda, which includes bipartisan bills to ban the LGBTQ panic defense in murder cases in Illinois (SB 1761), and to modernize state law for transgender individuals to get correct birth certificates (HB 1785). The governor has yet to act on them.

This is an A Wider Bridge Midwest article