Illinois adopts new LGBTQ+ protections

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday signed into law two measures aimed at safeguarding the rights of LGBTQ+ people as other states move toward restrictions -- and just days after the Human Rights Campaign declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans.

One measure, effective Aug. 8, will update language in existing laws about youths in foster care to be more gender-inclusive. The other law, effective next Jan. 1, will make it easier for LGBTQ+ couples to marry.

Illinois is one of several Democratic-led states that have worked to reinforce LGBTQ+ rights, as Republican-led legislatures in other states advance bills restricting public bathroom use, prohibiting gender-affirming care, banning transgender youth participation in sports.

"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, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored both bills and is the only openly LGBTQ+ member of the 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. It counted more than 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have become 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" legislation championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers.

The Illinois bills garnered nearly 2,000 opponents, including hundreds of individuals and the Illinois Family Institute.

• Claire 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.

Mike Simmons
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