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State's first lady attends Equality Illinois event
by Joshua Irvine
2019-11-18

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On Nov. 17, Illinois' first lady made a historic appearance at an annual LGBTQ event.

M.K. Pritzker was the star speaker at Sidetrack's annual MOMosa brunch, which brings together mothers and their LGBTQ children together at the Boystown video bar. Hosted in partnership with Equality Illinois for almost a decade, the event marked the first time the wife of a governor had appeared at the event.

"[Gov. J.B. Pritzker] and I promise you that we will stand with you and our state will be a beacon of hope to the LGBTQ community," she said.

The first lady touted numerous legislative acts signed by the governor, including the designation of single-occupancy restrooms as gender-neutral and the expansion of Medicaid to cover gender-affirming surgery, as well as executive orders combatting the AIDS epidemic and developing gender-inclusive curriculum in public schools.

She also spoke of her own allyship with the gay community, going back to gay bar visits with a closeted peer during her adolescence in South Dakota.

"I was honored to go with him then, and I'm honored to stand with you today," Pritzker said.

In introducing M.K., Sidetrack owner and Equality Illinois co-founder Art Johnston noted how public acceptance of the LGBTQ community had changed since the beginning of the LGBTQ-rights movement.

"Now, elected officials who at one time would have steered clear of blocks just to not get near a gay bar," Johnston said. "Now it comes election time and we have to schedule people who are running for office so they don't run into each other," Johnston said.

He praised the governor and his wife's efforts in LGBTQ advocacy, calling their work before and in office "nothing short of remarkable."

Attendees included state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and judicial candidate Jill Rose Quinn; the latter would become Illinois' first openly trans judge if elected. Event organizer Kevin Hauswirth had the crowd repeat her name aloud to remind them to vote.


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