Governor Pat Quinn is a strong, outspoken supporter of equal rights for all.
He has proven his opposition to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. He also has made state services that are important to the LGBT community, such as treatment, care and education for HIV/AIDS and breast and cervical cancer, a top priority of his Administration.
Appointing Openly LGBT Cabinet Members
In one of his first appointments as Governor, Pat Quinn appointed Brent Adams as Secretary of the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, making Secretary Adams the first openly HIV-positive cabinet-level official in Illinois history.
Secretary Adams is a well-regarded and effective leader; previously, Adams served as policy associate for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, one of Illinois’ leading AIDS service organizations, and as policy director for Citizen Action/Illinois, the state’s largest public interest organization and a key player in the fight for social and economic justice on both state and national levels.
"Time and time again, Governor Quinn has demonstrated his commitment to progressive values, and I’m honored to play a role in promoting his vision of a state that strives to project and promote equality of life for all people, including persons living with HIV," Adams said soon after his appointment. "I think it’s an encouraging step forward for all of us."
Governor Quinn also appointed Michael McRaith, who is openly gay, as director of the new Department of Insurance. McRaith, former Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, says the new agency will focus on modernizing health insurance and making sure that health insurance companies keep their promises to their customers.
McRaith says he believes it is important to have openly LGBT people working in decision-making posts in state government. "It proves to others that gays and lesbians are responsible and effective in leadership positions," he said. "It also allows us to highlight the disparities -- some of which are unspoken or unintended -- that impact LGBT people."
Defending Human Rights
As Governor, Pat Quinn is strongly committed to enforcement of the Illinois Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, public accommodations, real estate transactions and financial credit.
In March, under Governor Quinn’s direction, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) became the first state agency to petition President Obama to sign an Executive Order that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in federally-assisted housing. The message to the President noted that members of the LGBT community routinely face housing discrimination, that sexual orientation and gender identity are not yet protected by federal fair housing law, and that there are more than 4 million units of federally assisted housing in the United States.
Fighting Hate Crimes
Illinois has one of the most comprehensive hate crimes laws in the country. Governor Quinn is proud that the federal government has followed Illinois’ lead with passage of the Matthew Shepard Act, which makes it a federal crime to assault an individual because of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
As President Obama said when he signed the Act, this new federal law will help protect people in America from "violence based upon what they look like, who they love, and how they pray."
Supporting Equal Marital Rights
Governor Quinn believe the committed relationships of same-sex couples deserve the same basic recognition rights that are currently extended to married heterosexual couples -- including the right to act as next of kin, the right to assist their partners in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and the right to equal treatment in property and inheritance.
Governor Quinn will work actively with the Legislature to assure fairness and equal justice under our laws.
Fighting HIV/AIDS in Illinois
Illinois has the sixth-highest number of AIDS cases in the nation, with more than 40,000 reported cases of AIDS since 1981. In 2008, there were 1,915 persons newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS -- an 8 percent increase in the number of new diagnoses over the previous year.
Our state, and our nation, cannot afford the financial or personal cost of failing to fight HIV infection. As we work through these difficult economic times, Governor Quinn believes it is critically important to make sure that those who are living with chronic illnesses, including HIV, are not overlooked or forgotten as we grapple with historic budget deficits. For that reason, despite the massive shortfall in the current state budget, Governor Quinn restored 97.4 percent of funding for HIV-related programs.
Funding the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP)
ADAP provides HIV/AIDS medications to low-income Illinoisans who have no other means of obtaining their lifesaving HIV treatments. The significant number of people who have lost their employment-based health coverage, combined with those who have exhausted or cannot afford their COBRA benefits, has created a sharp increase in demand for ADAP.
This is an extremely important and cost-effective program -- one that saves lives and prevents expensive hospitalizations. For that reason, a portion of the funds allocated to Governor Quinn’s discretion by the General Assembly was set aside for the Illinois Department of Public Health to fund ADAP in this exceptionally difficult budget year.
Funding HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention
It is important for the state of Illinois to find cost-effective ways to raise awareness of HIV, particularly among our youth and in communities of color. This year, in recognition of World AIDS Day, the Illinois Lottery and Illinois Department of Public Health unveiled a new Quality of Life scratch-off ticket, "Red Ribbon Bonus Bucks." This new lottery ticket directs 100 percent of net proceeds to support HIV/AIDS-prevention education and awareness across Illinois. Through this effort, the state of Illinois can provide grants to HIV/AIDS organizations while raising awareness of HIV transmission and prevention.