The Illinois Department of Human Services and The Illinois Department of Human Rights are pleased to join together to commemorate June as LGBTQ+ Pride month, a time to celebrate courage, justice, love and fight for LGBTQ+ equality. Born out of protest, Pride commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots, where activists and patrons at the Stonewall Inn, stood up to hatred and persecution in a moment that changed the world.
Early leaders of this movement were the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: people of color, butch lesbians, effeminate young men, homeless youth, and trans people. Throughout history, LGBTQ+ people and straight allies have waged and won battles for equity, equality, and inclusion, and many continue to work to preserve hard-won protections.
Illinois has often been a leader in gay rights. In 2006, The Illinois Human Rights Acts was expanded to include the LGBT community as a protected class and one of the first states to include trans rights. The rights of same sex couples to enter into civil unions became law in Illinois in 2011, and marriage equality was enacted here in 2013, two years ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court.
While there continues to be a lot to fight for, there is also much to honor and celebrate. After four years of hateful attacks on LGBTQ rights, The Biden Administration has restored civil rights protections and signed an executive order that combats discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The ban prohibiting trans people from serving in the military has been lifted and the Pride flag is once again flying over American embassies worldwide.
LGBTQ+ people everywhere and from all walks of life are thriving as judges in courtrooms, actors on movie screens, leaders in legislatures, titans on Wall Street, and as activists working to preserve and advance equity and racial justice. This is why Pride continues to be both protest and celebration. It represents both the ongoing work of calling out and defeating laws and policies that harm and oppress, as well as the celebration of visibility, excellence, and victories that have already been won.
Despite all that has been accomplished, discrimination and oppression still exist. There is a lot of work ahead. As an example, we are witnessing over 250 bills across the country that seek to block trans student athletes from competing in sports. In Illinois, our trans youth, just like their peers, can participate in school sports. The whole nation can turn to The State of Illinois, as the example through our law, our policies, and our actions to ensure that LGBTQ+ individuals are treated with dignity and respect and protected against hate.
It's in our nature to love and be loved. Celebrate Pride! Commit with us to advancing equity, justice, and equality for the LGBTQ+ community and for all. Let's continue to remember how our liberties and our movements to obtain them are linked, and how we depend on each other to move forward.
Grace Hou, IDHS Secretary
Jim Bennett, IDHR Director