Hours before a debate gathering Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates to discuss LGBTQ-related issues, one of those candidates, state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) released an "LGBTQ Platform."
The platform is intended as "an agenda of legal change we can make so the State of Illinois can do to protect and lift up the LGBTQ community," said Biss, whose campaign launched the platform at the Pride Arts Center in Uptown.
Primary aspects of the platform include: enacting protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the Illinois State Constitution; committing to LGBTQ representation in cabinet-level positions; expanding healthcare for the LGBTQ community; fighting for civil rights and education; and driving economic power and reducing homelessness.
Biss' running mate, state Rep. Litesa Wallace (D-Rockford) praised the senator's "steadfastness and his adherence to the issues, [and] his ability to listen to people and not just speak for them."
Additional speakers included activists LaSaia Wade, Gearah Goldstein and Reggie Patterson as well as state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), who introduced the participants. Biss has been senate sponsor on several bills that Cassidy introduced in the House, notably the bill they sponsored that banned anti-gay conversion therapy.
Wade, who is transgender, said she was lending her name and voice to the campaign because she hoped Biss and Wallace could understand intersectional issues facing different members of the LGBT community.
"We need to understand that not only are we looking for equality, we are [also] looking for equity, and what that looks like," she added.
The LGBTQ platform included the following:
1. Enshrine protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the Illinois State Constitution.
2. Commit to LGBTQ representation in cabinet-level positions, including appointing someone to direct and implement this agenda.
3. Expand healthcare for the LGBTQ community.
Stop the spread of HIV.
Require private insurance providers and Medicaid to cover HIV prevention and treatment.
Restore funding to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), cut under Bruce Rauner's administration.
Provide counselors to help people living with HIV and AIDS navigate the often confusing patchwork of public and private benefit providers
Guarantee universal access to medical coverage for all transgender-related healthcare needs.
Invest in counseling for LGBTQ youth, a group at much higher risk of depression and suicide than their straight peers.
4. Fight for civil rights and education.
Mandate LGBTQ diversity and inclusion training for all state employees, including police officers and prison staff.
Make our schools safe for LGBTQ students, including making LGBTQ issues part of the curriculum and supporting Safe Zone Trainings for teachers and administrators.
Continue the modernization of birth certificates to include an X gender marker for non-binary individuals and list parents as "Parent 1" and "Parent 2" instead of "Father" and "Mother."
Fully repeal outdated laws which criminalize HIV transmission.
5. Drive economic empowerment and reduce homelessness.
Drastically reduce homelessness, which impacts the LGBTQ community at a higher rate than the general public, with innovative solutions like "tiny home" communities.
Support LGBTQ-owned businesses by ensuring representation in government contracts.
Restore funding to community centers, healthcare providers, and advocacy organizations, cut under Bruce Rauner's administration.