CHICAGO -- Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday signed into law two measures aimed at safeguarding the rights of LGBTQ+ people as other states move to restrict the community, just days after the Human Rights Campaign declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans.
One of the new laws will update language in existing acts to be more gender inclusive in order to affirm LGBTQ+ youth in foster care, and the other will make it easier for LGBTQ+ couples to marry. The laws will be effective on Aug. 8 and on Jan. 1, 2024, respectively.
Illinois is one of several U.S. states with Democratic-majority legislatures that has worked to reinforce LGBTQ+ rights, as Republican-led legislatures in other states advance bills that target the community, including restrictions on gender-affirming care, bans on transgender youth participation in sports, and " bathroom bills." The two new pro-LGBTQ+ Illinois laws were signed about a week into Pride month, a season intended to celebrate the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ communities, but which this year takes place in a contentious political climate.
“Some of our surrounding states seem to be focused on taking away hard-won rights for the LGBTQ+ community, and we must remain vigilant and aggressive in ensuring that Illinois is not only a refuge state and a sanctuary state for LGBTQ communities, but that we call out the hatred, punitive legislation, and entirely unnecessary regression that we're seeing," said Sen. Mike Simmons, who sponsored both bills and is the only "out" member of the Illinois Senate.
The Human Rights Campaign on Tuesday declared that LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. are “ under attack.”
The nation’s largest organization devoted to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans released a guidebook pointing to laws it deems discriminatory in each state, and counted more than 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been signed into law this year.
The NAACP last month issued a travel advisory for Florida, a popular warm-weather destination in the U.S., warning Black and LGBTQ+ tourists of “openly hostile” recent laws and policies championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida lawmakers.
The Illinois bills garnered nearly 2,000 opponents, including hundreds of individuals and the Illinois Family Institute, who registered their disapproval of the pro-LGBTQ+ legislation.
Savage is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.