President Donald Trump’s administration has been in power for a year now. “State of Trump” is our series discussing what’s changed in the state, and what might be ahead.
Brian Johnson is CEO of Equality Illinois, in the interview below he tells us about the organization's focus going forward, as well as the laws related to LGBTQ+ rights and protections that passed in 2017:
Johnson says LGBTQ+ advocates had a banner year in 2017. He noted three laws: one puts an end to the "gay-panic" defense in murders, one requires the state to collect data on the sexual orientation of those serving on certain public boards and commissions, and another lets a person change the gender marker on their birth certificate without the requirement of sexual reassignment surgery.
Two anti-LGBTQ+ measures that were introduced in the legislature, as is monitored by the Human Rights Campaign, did not get through. "On the national level we are seeing a really big rise in anti-LGBTQ sentiments ... In that context, seeing all of that happen in Washington, so many of our allies and champions here in the state were willing to say those efforts and actions don't represent our values in Illinois," says Johnson. He says lawmakers in the state showed bi-partisan support for the three bills passed into law, listed previously.
Johnson says as for the coming year and beyond, "The question that we're really wrestling with is, how can we make sure schools are safe and affirming places for all students, including LGBTQ students."