CHICAGO-Vice President-elect Mike Pence should know that as he arrives in Chicago on Friday, he will find a state with LGBTQ people who have grave concerns about his new administration, according to Equality Illinois, the statewide LGBTQ civil rights advocacy organization.
"The statements made by President-elect Trump, the policies practiced by Vice President-elect Pence as a member of Congress and governor of Indiana, and the beliefs expressed by their appointees are raising grave concerns among LGBTQ Illinoisans about the risks they are likely to face from the Trump-Pence administration," said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.
Vice President-elect Pence has a record of anti-LGBTQ actions. Most significantly, as governor of Indiana in 2015, Pence advocated for and signed a draconian law that established a free pass for individuals and businesses in Indiana to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Equality Illinois expressed grave concerns the new law would be used as an excuse to discriminate not just against LGBTQ Hoosiers but also LGBTQ Illinoisans who visit, work, conduct business, or must travel in Indiana. Now, with Vice President-elect Pence achieving national authority and as leader of the presidential transition team, our concerns are exacerbated and magnified.
"While marriage equality seems to be safe for the immediate future, if the president-elect proceeds with his promise to appoint Supreme Court justices 'in the mold of' Justice Scalia, that could change down the road if he has the opportunity to fill more than the current vacancy," Johnson said.
There are many other ways in which the LGBTQ community could experience meaningful rollbacks of our rights.
"The right to serve openly in the military, the right to have policies in schools that affirm our gender identity, the right not to be fired for our sexual orientation or gender identity by a federal contractor, and the right to update our gender marker on federal documents could all be diminished by executive action or a Republican Congress working with this president," Johnson said.
"In addition, we almost certainly foresee a dramatic reduction in the number of openly LGBTQ people serving in high level leadership roles in the federal government and a significant reduction in the amount of times our community is proactively brought to the table when major decisions impacting us are being discussed."
Johnson said that the community's concerns extend beyond the policies that impact only LGBTQ Americans.
"We are deeply concerned about LGBTQ community members whose overlapping identities put them at even more risk: LGBTQ Muslims, LGBTQ people who currently access medical care thanks to Planned Parenthood or through the Affordable Care Act, and LGBTQ immigrants," Johnson said.
Equality Illinois, working with a broad coalition in Illinois and nationally, said it intends to hold the Trump-Pence administration accountable for upholding the rights of all Americans and for maintaining the gains achieved for LGBTQ rights over the last eight years.