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Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 12:01 am


With same-sex marriage becoming law in Illinois on June 1, 2014, LGBT folks in Illinois have had a good year. But a recent report from the Human Rights Campaign shows plenty of work remains to be done at the local level in the name of equality. HRC published its nationwide Municipal Equality Index last week, including five cities in Illinois: Springfield, Chicago, Rockford, Aurora and Champaign. Springfield scored reasonably well with 78 out of 100 possible points, which is better than each of the other cities’ ratings except Chicago’s perfect score. The index measured things like nondiscrimination in city employment, the existence of a human rights commission within city government, and whether the city reported hate crimes to the FBI. One place Springfield could have improved was offering domestic partner health benefits, and readers may recall that the city tried to do just that in 2012, but they did so behind closed doors in violation of the state Open Meetings Act. Illinois Times sued the city to force the city’s Joint Labor/Management Health Care Committee to meet in public, where they could vote on the issue again, but that hasn’t happened. It’s unclear whether the city has begun offering the benefits through another means. It’s probably a moot point now that same-sex marriage will have the same protections under the law as opposite-sex marriage, but sometimes the simple gesture means the most.

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