I've heard 'em all before. The reasons why not to go to Springfield for Lobby Day. I don't need it ... we've already got protection in Chicago and Cook County. I can't take the time ... my job is more important to me. I can't get involved ... what if someone at work finds out. It's not my problem ... I don't even know anyone gay outside the city.
It can't happen to me ... nobody even knows I'm gay. Or lesbian. Or bisexual. Or transgender. Or intersex. Or ... whatever. I'll just stay in my closet and it can't happen to me.
But it happened to Vernita Gray, and it happened to Lorrainne Sade Baskerville, and now it happened to Ifti Nasim. Each year, hundreds of people lose their jobs, their homes, their lives ... because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Or because someone thought that they strayed outside of some invisible line of gender role acceptability.
Read more story below....
And you never know where it is coming from. You're not an activist; you never wanted to be one. You're just going along, minding your own business, and YeOOOW! It sneaks up and bites you on the ass when you're not looking ... and then what can you do? It can happen to you, it can happen to me. None of us is safe from discrimination.
Maybe you think you don't need it in Chicago. The nondiscrimination laws were enacted more than 10 years ago now, and they include sexual orientation. But here are some scenarios to think about ...
You are transferred from your posh office job on Michigan Avenue to the field office in Elmhurst. That's right, smack dab in the middle of Lee Daniel's and Pate Philip's turf. Back in the city, nobody minded that your partner's picture was on your desk, or that your van had a rainbow sticker on the bumper. Six month's later, you're back in the city, pounding the pavement because you were fired for being three minutes late to work.
Or ... your whole life you've worn your hair in a buzz cut. Cool in the summer, easy to take care of ... what the hell, it's you! All the womyn in college wear their hair like that. Now that you've graduated, with your master's degree in urban studies, with honors no less, you can't get a decent job in Chicago. What? You thought that there were laws preventing discrimination on sexual orientation? Not for you ... you just look way too masculine!
Or ... you and Paul, your partner, live in Oak Park and are duly recorded in the domestic-partner registry. You go downstate to visit Paul's aged Aunt Maude. Disaster strikes as Paul gets hit by a car while crossing the street in Edwardsville. He's rushed to the hospital unconscious. You attempt to contact the attending physician about an important decision regarding his care. But the doc won't listen to you; he needs the sage advice of Paul's nearest living relative, sweet Aunt Maude.
I could go on, but I won't. You get the picture. Simply put, you have no rights in Illinois outside of Cook County, Champaign/Urbana, and DeKalb. So you'd better stay put! And you'd better not look too queer, because gender identity is still fair game for discrimination in Cook County and Chicago.
Still think that you have a good excuse not to go to Springfield?
Lobby day is next week. It's Wednesday, March 28. There are buses going down to Springfield from all over the city. From all over the state.
Get on the bus! Do it for yourself. Do it for someone you love.
Call Equality Illinois at 773-477-7173 for details or contact Stevens-Miller at MirandaSt1@aol.com .