Illinois Gay Rights Pioneer Larry McKeon Receives Foundation Grant
For Four Decades of Activism, Public Service
The Stonewall Awards Honor Heroes of LGBT Rights Movement Chicago, Oct. 24, 2007—Illinois activist Larry McKeon has been named the recipient of the 2007 Stonewall Award in recognition of his longstanding service to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, Allen A. Schuh, president of The Anderson Prize Foundation, announced today. The$30,000 unrestricted cash award was presented to McKeon after an anonymous nomination process.
'Larry was not only the first openly gay representative in the Illinois legislature,' Schuh said, 'more courageously,he was one of the first elected representatives in the U.S. who acknowledged being HIV-positive. By his presence and example as a gay and HIV-positive individual working day-to-day on both GLBT and ordinary legislative business, Larry overcame widespread homophobia in government, achieving the largest majority in support of gayand lesbian rights in Illinois history. The Anderson Prize Foundation is pleased to give something back to Larry for his selfless commitment to our community.'
'To be honored with The Anderson Prize Foundation's award is especially meaningful, because I knew Paul Anderson and appreciated his important philanthropic work in our communities two decades ago,' McKeon said.
'The Prize he funded before he died has recognized many activists over the years who might otherwise have gone unacknowledged, and I am honored to be among them.'
Among McKeon's legislative achievements is an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act, passed in 2005 after 30 years of attempts to achieve state-wide legislation banning discrimination against LGBT citizens. 'I am very proud of my
success in passing the Human Rights Amendment during my career as a lawmaker,'McKeon said. 'In a year when a dozen states were passing laws writing discrimination into their constitutions by banning same-sex marriage, Illinois moved
towards ending discrimination. The Human Rights Act garnered the largest majority it had ever received in its 30-year history in the Illinois House, including the most bi-partisan support in its history.'
In addition, McKeon sponsored and achieved passage of revisions to the Illinois organ donor act that allows transplantation of organs betweenindividuals who are co-infected with HIV and viral hepatitis. This legislation received international attention and awaits congressional action to modify the prohibition in federal law.
McKeon, 63, is an Idaho native who began his public service career more than 40 years ago as a U.S. Army officer, Los Angeles police officer and administrator, educator, social service manager and community activist before becoming an elected state representative.
McKeon was elected to five consecutive two-year terms in the IllinoisHouse, representing the 13th district on Chicago's North side, 'one of the most diverse in the State of Illinois,' according to McKeon. Earlier, he
served as a director of the City of Chicago's Commission on Human Relations and as Mayor Richard M. Daley's liaison to the Chicago's Gay and Lesbian communities.
He was a director at Metropolitan Family Services and served on the faculty or staff at various universities, including the University of Chicago, Roosevelt University, University of Southern California, and California
State University at Los Angeles.
In 2006 McKeon received a Red Ribbon Leadership Award saluting the outstanding efforts by leaders who work to end HIV/AIDS in the United States, and to honor the important role of leadership in HIV/AIDS prevention. McKeon's Pioneer Award for Demonstrated and Exceptional Corporate Leadership and Social Responsibility in the fight against HIV/AIDS was presented by the National HIV/AIDS Partnership (NHAP). McKeon received the award on the day of his retirement, Dec. 1, 2006—which was also World AIDS Day—at a ceremony in Washington, DC.
Since his retirement from the Illinois House, McKeon lives in Springfield, where he is active during the legislative session in public management and policy consulting. In his free time, McKeon enjoys traveling throughoutthe Midwest in his 34-foot motor home with his two rescued greyhounds,where he pursues his interests in history, photography and enjoying the region's natural resources.
The Anderson Prize Foundation has awarded its Stonewall Awards since 1991 to GLBT and HIV activists. Established by Paul A. Anderson of Chicago before his death of AIDS-related causes in 1992, the Foundation is overseen by Allen A. Schuh, Anderson's companion of 13 years and an attorney residing in San Francisco and Chicago. The awards were established as unrestricted cash awards to recognize the recipients' personal sacrifices, as well as to honor their achievements, and are named for the 1969 protest in New York that is often viewed as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. In the 17 years since its establishment, the Foundation has given more than $1.3 million in unrestricted awards. Anonymous nominations are screened by a committee including previous award winners, and may not be solicited directly.
Honoring many famous as well as lesser-known heroes and heroines of the GLBT movement, the awards are made without regard to sexual orientation, race, ethnic origin, age or gender. ]
Larry McKeon, recipient of the 2007 Anderson Prize Foundation Award, retired from the Illinois House of Representatives in December 2006 following his 5th consecutive two-year term in elected office and after more than 40 years of public service. He represented the 13th District is on Chicago's North side, including portions of the Ravenswood, North Center, Lincoln Square, Uptown, Lakeview, Andersonville, Bowmanville and Argyle neighborhoods—one of the most diverse representative districts in the State of Illinois.
In the Illinois House, McKeon chaired the Labor Committee and served as vice chair of the Housing and Urban Development Committee. In addition, he was a member of the House Aging and Executive Committees, a member of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) and a commissioner on the Legislative Ethics Commission and the Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes.
In his elective career, McKeon's priorities included property tax reform, balanced community and economic development, education, health care, human rights, eliminating unnecessary governmental regulation, election and campaign finance reform and neighborhood safety. He brought more than 40 years of experience in public service as a U.S. Army officer, police officer and administrator, educator social service manager and community activist to his position as a legislator.
In 2006, McKeon was honored in Washington, D. C., with a Red Ribbon Leader Ship Pioneer Award for Demonstrated and Exceptional Corporate Leadership and Social Responsibility in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Presented by the National HIV/AIDS Partnership (NHAP), The Red Ribbon Leadership Awards salute the outstanding efforts by leaders who work to end HIV/AIDS in the United States, and to honor the important role of leadership in HIV/AIDS prevention. NHAP is a dynamic collaboration of more than 120 leaders from all sectors who are dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS in the United States.
Prior to his election to the Illinois House of Representatives, McKeon was a director at the City of Chicago's Commission on Human Relation and Mayor Richard M. Daley's liaison to Chicago's Gay and Lesbian communities. He served as a director at Metropolitan Family Services and as a faculty or staff member at the University of Chicago, Roosevelt University, University of Southern California, and California State University at Los Angeles. For more than 12 years he was a law enforcement officer and administrator in Los Angeles County serving as a patrol officer, sergeant, lieutenant and watch commander.
McKeon served as a Board member of Horizons Community Services (now the Center on Halsted) , and the Alexian Brothers' Bonaventure House. He continues to serve as an active member of the Association of Retired Persons, the National Organization of Women, and the Policy Council of Citizen Action Illinois. He was a founding member of Equality Illinois (formerly the Illinois Federation for Human Rights) and the Illinois Coalition Against Handgun Violence; McKeon is a lifetime member of the Illinois Coalition of Persons with Disabilities.
McKeon received a bachelor's degree in political science and MS in public policy and administration from California State University and completed PhD level coursework and exams at the University of Chicago. He currently resides in Springfield, where he manages his own public management and policy consultancy during the legislative session.
Secured passage in the House an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act adding sexual orientation to the laws prohibiting discrimination in employment and housing; this legislation was subsequently passed in the Illinois Senate and signed into law in 2005;
Passed revisions to organ transplant laws allowing transplantation of organs between patients who are co-infected with HIV and viral Hepatitis;
Consumer protection legislation protecting home and condo buyers from unscrupulous developers;
Protection of workers from unfair labor practices;
Sponsored Scott's Law which provides fines up to $10,000 and driving license suspensions of up to 2 years for drivers who, by failing to yield to an emergency vehicle at an emergency scene, cause property damage or injury;
Established a seven-percent cap on assessed value of homeowners property;
Sponsored legislation that helps keep seniors in their homes;
Founding member of the Legislative Ethics Commission which protects the public from corruption;
Secured more than $36 million in funds for roads, public transit and community services in the 13th District;
Passed law to protect small businesses such as Tweets and Big Chicks which faced termination of business and liquor licenses.