As a woman and one of only three openly LGBTQ elected officials on the state level in Illinois, equality is an extremely important and personal issue for me. I spent a large part of my career with the National Organization for Women, fighting against patriarchal norms and policies designed to marginalize women and girls.
Since then, I have worked tirelessly to ensure equal treatment for all Illinoisans. In 2011, Marriage equality was a centerpeice of my agenda, and in 2014, I spearheaded the effort to ban so-called “conversion therapy.” Passing that bill stands as one of my proudest accomplishments to date. In 2017, I worked with my colleagues to guarantee transgender individuals the ability to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates without a surgery requirement. That same year, we won a major victory in passing HB 40 into law, providing access to abortion services for low-income women. In 2018, we ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, helping to enshrine protection for women in the US Constitution.
Despite our many victories in my seven years in office, there is still more to do. Recently, we passed the Equal Pay Act, created to mitigate gender wage gaps. Unfortunately, it was vetoed by Governor Rauner.
But we won't be deterred. The fight for marginalized and underrepresented group to gain equality in all realms of society is in full swing, and I intend to amplify their voices and be their champion as best I can.
HB 834 - Equal Pay Act
Representative Anna Moeller (43rd District) has reintroduced the Equal Pay Act that former Gov. Rauner vetoed. This bill would protect Illinois workers from being compelled to disclose their previous salaries for the purposes of screening, salary negotiations, or securing an interview. This legislation will make it easier for women in the workplace to get equal pay for equal work, since their previous salaries will not follow them into their new positions.
HB 2495 - Reproductive Health Act
The Reproductive Health Act recognizes that providing abortion is health care, not criminal activity. The bill fixes Illinois’ outdated abortion law so that the state treats abortion care like all health care, with regulations that reflect current medical standards. It repeals the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975. This law, largely blocked by courts in Illinois, imposes felony penalties on doctors who provide reproductive health care. The change takes regulation of abortion out of the criminal code and affirms abortion is health care.
The bill specifically affirms that women – not politicians – make the personal decisions around their use of birth control, the decision to carry a pregnancy to term or to seek or refuse an abortion. The measure requires private health insurance plans in Illinois to cover abortion on the same basis as contraception and maternity care.
These decisions are deeply personal -- I can’t pretend to know a woman’s circumstances, or make those decisions for her. What I do know is that I trust women to make this decision.
As a sponsor of the Reproductive Health Act, I spoke on this issue and the contentious legislation going on around the country at a rally outside the Statehouse on Wednesday May 15, 2019. The video is attached below.
HB 3114 - Ballot Access for All Act
The Ballot Access for All Act would reform the petition requirements for candidacy to a public office. It would require the State Board of Elections to create a pilot program to allow petition signatures to be gathered electronically, and reduces the number signatures needed for countywide office in Cook County must contain at least 5,000 but not more than 10,000 signatures (rather than the number of signatures equal to .5% of the qualified electors of his or her party who cast votes at the last preceding general election in Cook County). Amends the Revised Cities and Villages Act of 1941. Provides that a petition for nomination for mayor of Chicago must be signed by at least 5,000 but not more than 10,000 legal voters of the city (rather than 12,500).
I have not included all my legislation here, but please feel free to visit the Illinois General Assembly Website to view all the bills I have introduced or am co-sponsoring!