After thirty years… Illinois has finally added “Sexual Orientation” to its anti-discrimination laws.
Today, Governor Rod Blagojevich ended thirty years with the stroke of his pen. He signed the bill that added “Sexual Orientation” to the state of Illinois’ discrimination law– a law that already protected people for their race and religious beliefs, among other things.
It’s hard to fathom that when they started fighting this cause, I was a mere 3-4 years old. Thirty years. How many people have died fighting for this cause? How many people have put in hours and hours of tireless work and effort to make this happen?
The number is probably not that staggering, but think back to thirty years ago. When the most basic of rights were being denied to those of us who, today, enjoy every opportunity that our straight neighbors, co-workers, and even family members enjoy. The right to a job. The right to a home. The right to be served food. The right to buy something at a store. The right to walk down the street. The right to adopt a child. The right to express yourself and be yourself in public.
Things were much different thirty years ago. And not just in the rural areas, but even the urban areas, where these rights have been enjoyed for many years– certainly the seven years that I have lived here.
Those of us who are enjoying these rights today have those people to thank. Some have gone from this world already, but many remain. Take a moment to thank the politicians, the activists, the friends that you know, who have put their blood, sweat and tears into making this happen.
I am attending the Equality Illinois Gala event on February 5th. Equality Illinois has, for years, been fighting this fight for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendereds throughout the state of Illinois for many years. The event is usually a sober experience, with lots of rousing speeches and supportive words from politicians who would vow to make sure that this bill is passed.
This year, however, I suspect that there will be an air of joviality. Celebration. Joy. Hope.
There certainly is a lot more work to be done, given the administration that our country is (still) dealing with. But folks, there is hope. We will perservere. We will win. With patience, we will win.