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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Citizen lobbyists to join Equality Illinois outreach
From a news release
2012-03-22

This article shared 2186 times since Thu Mar 22, 2012
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SPRINGFIELD -- With same-sex marriage, hate crimes and anti-bullying proposals on the table, Equality Illinois is sponsoring a major lobbying initiative here in the capital city to let state lawmakers know of the importance the LGBT community places on these significant initiatives.

More than 200 citizen lobbyists from all over the state will join the Equality Illinois professional staff and bipartisan advocacy team in button-holing scores of House and Senate members and representatives of Executive Branch officeholders. A full day of meetings and receptions is planned.

"We want to impress on the state's leaders, particularly in an election year, the level of passion and commitment that LGBT voters and their allies place on these issues," said Randy Hannig, Director of Public Policy for Equality Illinois. "It is important for officials to hear from their constituents in person and to know that the Equality Illinois citizen lobbyists represent thousands more voices in their districts and throughout Illinois."

Equality Illinois, the state's oldest and largest LGBT advocacy organization, is following many bills in the legislature, Hannig said, but among the biggest issues is the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which would create marriage equality in Illinois. "It may take many months to build support for marriage equality, so we have to let legislators know again and again how important this is," Hannig said.

Also on the agenda is Equality Illinois support for adding gender identity, military status and immigration status to protected classes under the state's hate crimes law. Another crucial bill would require all Illinois schools to develop new measures against bullying and cyberbullying.

"From the passage of LGBT anti-discrimination protections in 2005 to the civil unions bill in 2010, the Illinois legislature has broadened access to equality in the state, but each of those victories was the result of hard-fought battles," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois. "There is so much more to accomplish, which is why we have a permanent lobbying operation in Springfield and why we urge LGBT voters and our allies to join us for this special lobbying day."

Buses will depart from Chicago, Oak Park, Bolingbrook, Carbdonale and Belleville. LGBT supporters who wish to participate in Equality Illinois Lobby Day, whether they plan to take the organization's buses or travel on their own, are asked to sign up at tinyurl.com/MarriageEQILobbyday2012, where all participants can find more details.

Here is the information for supporters who wish to participate:

What: Equality Illinois Lobby Day

When: Wednesday, April 25

Bus Transportation:

Chicago, Leaving 7 a.m. sharp from the Equality Illinois office, 3318 N. Halsted Street

Oak Park, Leaving 7 a.m. sharp from the Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church, 405 S. Euclid Avenue

Bolingbrook, Leaving 7:45-8 a.m. from Denny's Restaurant, 126 East North Frontage Road, Exit 267 off of I-55 South (Stevenson Expressway)

Carbondale, Leaving 7 a.m. sharp from the Church of the Good Shepherd, 515 S. Orchard Drive

Belleville, Leaving 8:45-9:00 a.m. from St. Paul's United Church of Christ, 115 West B St.

Schedule:

About 11 a.m. - All buses will drop off attendees at The Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 South 6th Street, Springfield. Supporters traveling on their own should meet the group there.

11 a.m. — 12:30 p.m. — Lunch and presentation on talking points and effective lobbying

12:30 — 1:30 p.m. - Reception with state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka in the State Capitol building, Room 201

1:30 — 4 p.m. - Meeting with legislators at the Illinois State Capitol building

4:15-5:45 p.m. — Debriefing and reception sponsored by Springfield Alderman Cory Jobe

5:45 p.m. — Buses depart Springfield

Equality supporters from the entire state are welcome and encouraged to join us in Springfield!


This article shared 2186 times since Thu Mar 22, 2012
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