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.
I was appointed to the legislature in 2011, when the marriage equality movement really began picking up steam, and made it a centerpiece of my agenda. I believed then and now that I, and LGBTQ folks all over Illinois, deserved the chance to marry whomever we happened to love.
In 2014, I spearheaded the effort to ban so-called "conversion therapy", a disgusting and entirely science-free procedure in which LGBTQ youth are traumatized into denying their identities. Passing that bill stands as one of my proudest accomplishments to date.
Just recently, we guaranteed transgender individuals the ability to have their birth certificates reflect their gender identities.
We also won a major victory in passing HB40 into law, guaranteeing access to abortion services for low-income women.
Despite our many victories in various realms of equality in my seven years in office, we have a long way to go. Recently we fought to pass the Equal Pay Act, which would have helped to mitigate gender wage gaps. Unfortunately, it was vetoed by Governor Rauner.
But we won't be deterred by the same old excuses women have been hearing for decades. In the 1970's, the anti-Equal Rights Amendment lobby prevented Illinois from helping enshrine commonsense protection for women in the US Constitution. We are fighting to right that wrong in 2018, and ratify the ERA as we should have done many years ago.
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.