News (USA)

Illinois’ GOP governor, LGBT rights advocates find common ground

Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-Ill.)
Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-Ill.) AP

CHICAGO — Putting election-year hostilities behind them, LGBT rights advocates said they emerged from a meeting with Gov. Bruce Rauner with a pledge the Republican will strictly enforce anti-discrimination laws and hope that he’ll also support their top legislative priority: a ban on gay conversion therapy for minors.

Representatives of Equality Illinois and other advocacy groups met with Rauner Friday for the first time since he took office in January.

Rauner said he’ll issue a directive that state agencies strictly enforce anti-discrimination laws. He has directed the Department of Human Rights to conduct a survey of Illinois residents to identify patterns of discrimination and provide recommendations to his office by Jan. 31. Rauner also said he’ll appoint a liaison from his office to the LGBT community.

Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov said Saturday the roughly 30-minute meeting was a positive first step. A spokesman for Rauner confirmed details of the meeting but declined to comment further.

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Gay rights activists supported Rauner’s rival, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, during the campaign. They campaigned actively against the GOP businessman, calling him “an enemy of equality” and hanging a huge anti-Rauner banner along the route where thousands of people attended Chicago’s gay pride parade.

A major issue was Rauner’s position on same-sex marriage. Quinn signed legislation making same-sex marriage legal in Illinois, and called it one of his proudest accomplishments. Rauner declined to say whether he personally supported it. And while he said he had no plans to overturn the law if elected, he also said that if the same-sex legislation had landed on his desk as governor he would have vetoed it because voters should have decided the issue.

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