An openly gay attorney is the recipient of this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award in Elgin.
John Dalton, a longtime community activist and lawyer, was honored Jan. 14 for his LGBT advocacy and for speaking out against racism in his community.
Dalton is a co-founder and past chair of Speak Out Against Prejudice (SOAP), a group that formed to combat anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric in Elgin. SOAP received the same award from Elgin in 2009.
Dalton said his first thought when he learned of the award was that he didn't deserve it.
"This award, named after the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., an icon I've always idolized, seems like it should be beyond the grasp of mere mortals like me," he said.
It has been a big year for Dalton, who is running unopposed in the primary for 16th Judicial Circuit Court Judge in the 2nd Subcircuit of Kane County. Dalton became a trustee of Elgin Community College in May, and was awarded the 2011 Award Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Award for Community leadership from the Illinois State Bar Association last June.
In the past, Dalton fought to get same-sex couples domestic-partnership recognition before it was common. He also lobbied local officials to let him write LGBT protections into District U-46 handbooks, and he helped win recognition of three Gay Straight Alliances in that district.
This is the 27th year that Elgin has presented the award. Other awardees this year include the YWCA of Elgin and LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) Local Council #5236.