Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-08-26
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


  WINDY CITY TIMES

History-making gay judge set to retire
by Byron Flitsch
2010-01-06

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Thomas Chiola, the first openly gay elected individual in Illinois, has announced his retirement from his 16-year Cook County Circuit Court judicial position.

Chiola made history when he won his rigorous campaign for Cook County Circuit Court judge in 1994 in the eighth Judicial Subcircuit.

In a telephone interview, Chiola recounted the campaign as "exciting because of how we were running [ the campaign ] . The "i" in my name was dotted with a pink triangle that was sort of a badge of honor. People knew where it came from and it stood for not backing down. It reminded people that we'd never go back."

According to the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame's Web site, his momentous win was not only a political landmark, but also offered hope and inspiration for the LGBT community while fueling a connection between a diverse population demographic ranging from citizens living in neighborhoods like Chinatown, the Gold Coast and Cabrini Green.

His campaign was heavily supported by some segments of the Democratic Party, and he was the first gay candidate to have support from a majority in his Democratic ward. Chiola said, "I've been nostalgic [ about retirement ] lately, and while going through old articles and photos I realized how many people helped me get to get this far. My supporters have been instrumental in helping me get to where I am today."

According to QRD.org, Chiola's career began shortly after graduating from University of Illinois-Champaign Law School in 1977. He moved from Springfield to Chicago, where his first position was as a prosecutor for the Illinois Attorney General's Environment Control Division, where he concentrated on pollution cases.

Shortly after, Chiola served as the chief administrative law judge for the General Council for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation. In his six years as chief judge, Chiola deliberated various medical cases that were often highlighted in the media due to scandals associated with the malpractice lawsuits that were brought to his courtroom.

Chiola later pursued his candidacy for Cook County Judge. About the political run, Chiola recalled, "I remember this giant banner—to me, it looked as big as a football field—hanging in Sidetrack. It was a big deal for me to see that. It [ the campaign ] became very real and exciting."

Chiola's impact on the gay community has been just as influential. As an activist, he successfully aided in passing the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance in 1993—a measure designed to protect all people who live and work in the county from discrimination and sexual harassment based on a variety of instances including sexual orientation. "I knew I had a big opportunity [ to press bigger issues ] in my position and went with it," Chiola told Windy City Times. Before his judicial candidacy, Chiola was a board member for IMPACT ( a Chicago gay and lesbian political action committee ) where he continued to work for passing sexual orientation-based non-discrimination laws with the goal of adding "sexual orientation" to the Illinois Human Rights Act. He's also been celebrated for gaining the support of a variety of political representatives that pay attention to gay and lesbian issues because "people in our community wanted the opportunity to speak for themselves. It was important to be that voice and try to open more doors to more voices."

While volunteering as an attorney for Legal Clinic for the Disabled, Chiola learned HIV/AIDS patients were refused advice. According to QRD.org, in 1986 ( with the help of Howard Brown Health Center ) he organized a free legal project that allotted legal services for patients who would otherwise have no other option. His humanitarian efforts continued as an active participant in fundraising efforts for the Chicago office of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the NAMES Project and HIV/AIDS agency Vital Bridges ( previously known as Open Hand ) , where he also volunteers.

Chiola's enthusiasm also extends to sports. Not only has he been an active participant in the organizational aspect of gay and lesbian sporting events across the nation, but he is also an athlete. According to QRD.org, Chiola has been on the board of the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ) and Team Chicago; was a member of the Frontrunners; and a director of Proud to Run. He ran a marathon and competed in bowling in the 1990 Vancouver Gay Games. He completed a triathlon and multiple swimming events in the 1994 New York City Gay Games. He also participated in a triathlon in the 2006 Chicago Gay Games, and is preparing for another event in the 2010 Cologne Gay Games.

Chiola was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1998 for his unparalleled career and community efforts. He was honored with a Judicial Leadership Award in April of 2006 given by the Gay and Lesbian Legal Alliance ( GALLA ) from John Marshall Law School. In 2009, he became the president of AIJ ( Alliance of Illinois Judges ) , an organizational resource for fellow gay and lesbian judges.

When asked what was next, Chiola said, "I would like to get more involved in community organizations. Because of my previous position, I wasn't able to be a part of certain projects. Whether it's lobbying or working on state legislation … I'm looking forward to being active in the community again."

Chiola has been a devoted activist, an award-winning professional, an inspiration to gay youth and an avid athlete who continues to make an impact on the LGBT community. His generosity and professional strides will remain a permanent footprint in the history of Chicago public figures.

A private party will be held Jan. 8 to celebrate Chiola's success and retirement.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Project Fierce Chicago buys building in North Lawndale 2015-08-28
Chicago panel calls for awareness, action for murdered Black trans women 2015-08-27
Virginia shooter gay, manifesto says 2015-08-26
Homeland Security raids Rentboy.com offices in New York 2015-08-26
National: Hillary; Texas hate crime; Trump; 18th trans murder 2015-08-25
World: Murder suspect charged; fashion figure fired; Montreal parade 2015-08-25
LGBT groups join Amnesty International in call to decriminalize sex work 2015-08-25
UN brief to include ISIS terror against LGBTIs 2015-08-21
Rauner signs anti-conversion therapy bill 2015-08-20
Social Security will retroactively grant spousal benefits in Lambda case 2015-08-20
City of Chicago immigrant reform plan unveiled 2015-08-20
Queer woman talks activism, being undocumented 2015-08-19
IGLHRC launches Ugandan campaign 2015-08-19
National roundup: Ohio ruling; trans candidate; Missouri murder 2015-08-18
ASK LAMBDA LEGAL The Equality Act 2015-08-18
Tidwell missing after several days 2015-08-17
Charles Schwab hosts event about marriage equality 2015-08-12
Trans immigrants in custody are subject of U.S. House briefing 2015-08-12
Healthcare decision-making for the LGBTQ community 2015-08-12
Upcoming: Dancing Fest; Chicago Fringe; Treasure Island; Bette; WildClaw 2015-08-12
Religious freedom, conversion therapy among event's issues 2015-08-11
Attorney calls for trans-related legal challenges 2015-08-10
McCarter introduces 'religious freedom' bill 2015-08-10
LGBT Equality Institute in Springfield welcomes experts, activists 2015-08-08
Landmark agreement reached on investigatory stops in Chicago 2015-08-07
Corporate giants support Comprehensive Federal LGBT Non-Discrimination Law 2015-08-06
Preckwinkle, Garcia announce $500,000 fund for restorative justice 2015-08-06
LGBTQ Groups endorse Voting Rights Act Restoration 2015-08-05
Demystifying sexual abuse in the LGBTQ community 2015-08-05
Upcoming: Event for veterans' supporters on Aug. 9 2015-08-05
Attorney/activist works with marginalized communities 2015-08-05
Velvet Rope owner pleads guilty to arson and fraud 2015-08-04
LGBT and other groups back Planned Parenthood 2015-08-02
Lambda Legal Midwest Region welcomes Garner Fellow Aisha Davis 2015-07-31
Six stabbed in repeat attack at Jerusalem Pride 2015-07-31
ACLU to Gov's Commission: Move from "tough on crime" to smart on crime 2015-07-29
Entertainment: Nick Jonas; Caitlyn Jenner; Lucy Lawless; RuPaul 2015-07-28
Illinois justice talks marriage 'moment' 2015-07-28
ABA conference July 30-Aug. 4 2015-07-28
Competing trans legal events set to take place in Chicago 2015-07-28
 



Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.