Our View: Suburbs should review and scrub their books of outdated, discriminatory laws
Say what you will about decisions to remove statues of Confederate heroes from town squares in the Southern states. Those who cry "cancel culture" in such cases may be guilty only of being unfeeling and out of touch. But when local laws and covenants in the suburbs of Chicago still include the horrid practice of redlining or other forms of discrimination -- even though federal law has outlawed them and no one enforces them anymore -- it opens questions of just how welcoming the suburbs are.
Nicole Sullivan, who calls herself "a white suburban girl," moved to Diamond Lake eight years ago, and in researching the covenants on her property in the 1920s-era West Shoreland subdivision to determine whether she could create a dog run, she noticed an overt reference to redlining, the practice of denying people of certain races from being able to own property there.
According to our Mick Zawislak's story, one of the 13 covenants prohibited owners from conveying property to "any person of the African or Negro, Japanese, Chinese, Jewish or Hebrew races or their descendants."
The federal Housing Rights Act of 1968 outlawed that practice, but language requiring it remained in the covenants.
This week Sullivan became the first person in Lake County -- and likely the state -- to file a restrictive covenant modification, allowed under state law as of Jan. 1.
Illinois became only the fourth state to allow such covenants to be removed.
"While we can't change the past, we have done our best to stop this document from continuing to cause harm," Sullivan said.
Unfortunately, such anachronistic rules can also be found in local ordinances.
Last year, after it was pointed out to municipal leaders in Elk Grove Village, Schaumburg and Des Plaines that they had ordinances that forbade men from dressing in women's clothing, the towns updated the laws.
It's very likely that offensive laws and covenants remain on the books elsewhere in the suburbs.
Attorney and Elk Grove Village resident Jim Naughton raised the issue to officials in all three towns after discovering the ordinances while reviewing suburban municipal codes.
If Naughton was able to find these, we can't imagine why other municipalities wouldn't conduct reviews of their ordinances and change or remove discriminatory and otherwise harmful laws that have no place in society today.
It's simply not enough not to enforce those laws. It's an embarrassment that they still exist.
This is not who we are.
At least not anymore.