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Rauner signs two bills sought by gay rights activists

Monday, Aug 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Criminal defendants who kill LGBTQ people can no longer be acquitted by claiming a panic defense–that they were provoked by a fear of the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity–under a new law signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner that was part of the 2017 legislative agenda of Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for LGBTQ Illinoisans.

“This new law ensures​ LGBTQ people are not blamed for the violence perpetrated against them simply because of who they are,” Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, said Monday. “We thank Gov. Rauner for supporting the panic defense ban. With the unanimous support of the legislature and the governor’s action, Illinois continues its proud bipartisan tradition of advancing justice for LGBTQ Illinoisans.”

The measure, SB 1761, which the governor signed on Friday after unanimously passing both chambers of the General Assembly, is part of the 2017 legislative agenda of Equality Illinois. The agenda also included two other bipartisan bills signed into law in recent days. The LGBTQ Public Service Law (SB 1670), which enhances LGBTQ representation and visibility on state boards and commissions, was approved by Gov. Rauner on Aug. 18. The third bill, HB 1785, modernizes state law so transgender individuals won’t have to undergo unnecessary surgical procedures at great expense in order to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates. It was signed last Friday.

“This is a huge achievement. With the approval of these three bills by the legislature and the governor, Illinois is moving forward on LGBTQ rights while the federal government reverses course and Donald Trump is going against the tide of history,” Johnson said. “These bills improve the lives of LGBTQ Illinoisans, and having them signed into law also improves the social and political fabric for everyone in the state. It could have only happened through the collaboration of Illinois Democrats and Republicans. Working together, we can achieve great things.”

An initiative of Equality Illinois, Senate Bill 1761 was sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston and state Rep. Litesa Wallace of Rockford. The legislation unanimously passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly in May. SB 1761 is, we believe, the first bill in the country supporting LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) rights to pass with unanimous support from a state legislature.

* From Friday

[Gov. Rauner] also signed legislation that would make it easier for transgender people to change the sex designation on their birth certificates.

Formerly, state law said transgender people could only change their birth certificates if a doctor said they had transition surgery. The new law would allow for a change if a medical or mental health provider confirms someone has received “clinically appropriate” treatment. A range of practices including hormone therapy would be covered, using a similar standard that applies to U.S. passports.

Supporters said people were often denied coverage for preventive care like pap smears and prostate exams if their birth certificates and identities don’t match, saying the previous surgery requirement was an unnecessary burden.

“It’s basic common sense that a person’s gender should be recognized and respected, whether or not that person has had any particular kind of surgery,” John Knight, director of the LGBT and HIV Project for the ACLU of Illinois. “I’m extremely proud of our state for taking this important step to modernize a law that has been a significant barrier in transgender people’s lives for many, many years.”


  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 9:14 am:

    Had never heard of the “panic defense.” I can see why the bill passed unanimously.

  2. - phocion - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 9:27 am:

    Getting rid of the panic defense was the right thing to do. And it will get Rauner and the Republicans absolutely no additional support from the gay community.

  3. - Newbie chic - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 9:42 am:

    I am shocked, I had no idea of the panic defense. I am glad to see this bill signed. How many other things are so ridiculous and out dated?

  4. - hisgirlfriday - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 9:51 am:

    Don’t say this often but good for Rauner.

    Maybe this and Diana telling Sneed that she and her husband are “warriors for social justice” signals a new strategy for re-elect?

  5. - Saluki - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 9:52 am:

    I am surprised Rauner signed the Transgender bill. It was probably easier to sign without a legit primary contender.

  6. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 9:53 am:

    Well I guess I am n minority. I don’t like state getting rid of any defense. Should be a factual issue left to jury. Yes is sort of like blaming a woman in a rape case and I don’t think it will work but goes to mind set of defendant.

  7. - Put the fun in unfunded - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 9:54 am:

    “People were often denied coverage for preventative care like pap smears and prostate exams”? Wouldn’t it be the opposite? Let’s think about this for a moment. If one was born with two X chromosomes but one’s birth certificate says one is a man, does that make it easier or harder to get insurance coverage for a pap smear to test for cervical cancer? I think this argument was focus group tested rather than common sense tested.

  8. - Blue dog dem - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 9:58 am:

    I have tried finding how often this has been used in Illinois. Coming up empty. Anybody have statistical?

  9. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 10:18 am:

    To be clear, the “gay panic” defense is not a recognized, codified legal defense. What it is, is a defense strategy where the argument is raised to support a recognized defense like self defense or temporary insanity. This law prevents it from even being raised, which is in my opinion a good thing. Fearing someone is making same sex advances against you, or even actually doing it, is never, ever a reason to kill someone.

  10. - Demoralized - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 10:24 am:

    I don’t think this defense has been tried a whole lot. And as far as I can tell it’s never been an effective defense in the U.S. That being said, it should never be an option in the first place.

    I wonder if the Illinois “Family” Institute will come out proclaiming that the world is now ending as we know it (again).

  11. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 10:28 am:

    What this “defense” also does is allow the defendant to seek sympathy from the judge/jury either to obtain an acquittal or a lesser sentence based on the identity of their victim. Therefore, in my opinion, it devalues the life of an LGBT victim versus a straight one. Obviously, if the killer is truly in fear of death or serious bodily harm then self defense could apply, but the orientation of the person they kill makes absolutely no difference.

  12. - JoanP - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 10:48 am:

    In my thirty-five years as a criminal defense lawyer, in multiple counties, I never heard this argument used.

  13. - Texas Red - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 10:54 am:

    But, but, but the cartoon… I thought Rauner was a bigot or racist or against diversity.

  14. - Rich Miller - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 10:56 am:

    ===I thought Rauner was a bigot or racist or against diversity. ===

    No. He just couldn’t answer a straight-forward question on that topic.

  15. - hisgirlfriday - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    @DuPage Saint - Ask yourself this… would you support a murder defense based on “racial panic” or “religious panic”?

  16. - anon2 - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 11:58 am:

    The unanimous vote for SB1761 included Rep. Ives, although some of her like-minded colleagues (e.g. Breen and Reis) were listed as NV.

  17. - cc - Monday, Aug 28, 17 @ 12:09 pm:

    After Rutherford, I find this “interesting”.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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