Equality Illinois Gala to Celebrate the End of Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation in Illinois

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More than 1,200 guests expected to attend this weekend's historic event to toast equal rights for the GLBT community in Illinois

On Saturday, February 5, Equality Illinois will throw the ultimate victory party celebrating the passage on January 11 of historic legislation guaranteeing equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens of Illinois, which was signed into law on January 21.

The theme of the gala is "Justice for All: Just Say I Do to the End of Legal Discrimination Based upon Sexual Orientation." Presented by Michael Leppen and Harris Bank, the gala will benefit Equality Illinois, the largest human rights organization in the state focusing on the GLBT community, the black-tie optional event will take place from 6:00 P.M. to Midnight at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Michael Leppen, Amy Maggio, Hon. Sara Feigenholtz, and Hon. Manny Flores co-chair the event.

Hosted by Wayne Johnson, NBC-TV’s "Domestic Diva," the evening will feature a silent auction, cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres from 6:00 to 8:00, dinner and a gala program beginning at 8:00, followed by dessert and dancing.

The Motorola Corporation will be the first corporate recipient of an Equality Illinois Freedom Award, recognizing its outstanding support of GLBT employees and of the community.

This year’s Freedom Award Recipients include Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, founders in 1972 of the first national lesbian organization, the Daughters of Bilitis, and the first same-sex couple (together for 50 years) to be married in San Francisco on February 12, 2004.

The Honorable Dawn Clark Netsch, State Senator from 1973 to 1990 and Comptroller of Illinois from 1991 to 1995, will receive a Freedom Award for her long-time support of the GLBT community. In 1995, she was inducted into the Chicago Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame.

State Senator Carol Ronen and Representative Larry McKeon will be recognized for their sponsorship of the historic legislation that prohibits discrimination in Illinois because of sexual orientation.

Tickets for the 2005 gala are $275 and may be purchased online at http://www.eqil.org or through TicketWeb at 1-866-468-3401. Premier tickets are available for $375 and include a Premier Reception with awardees and major event sponsors on Friday evening, February 4, at the Metropolitan Club on the 66th floor of the Sears Tower, 233 S. Wacker Dr. Business attire is appropriate for this reception, which will take place from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M.

The event is made possible by the generosity of dozens of corporate and individual sponsors.

Platinum level sponsors include: Miriam Hoover, Bacardi, Chicago Free Press, Orbitz, BoystownChicago.com and Zoom Vacations. Gold Sponsors include: Allied Domecq, Robert Brumbaugh, Hilton, Sidetrack, The Morten Group, Johnson Brothers Wines, Progress Printing and Visual Media. Silver Sponsors include: Bacardi Rum, BankOne, Bombay Sapphire Gin, ComEd, an Exelon Company, Dewars Scotch, Gallo Sonoma Chardonnay, LaSalle Bank, Maker's Mark Bourbon, Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, McWilliams Merlot, Miller Lite, R Family Vacations, Stolichnaya Vodka & 93WXRT. Bronze Sponsors include: Gay Chicago Magazine, The Gourmet Grape, Mumm Champagne, Steamworks, Toolbox Inc. and Wilde C3 Design. Corporate table sponsors include: Capri Capital, Fleishman-Hillard, Hewitt, IBM, SBC Communications and Sidley, Austin, Brown and Wood LLP.

The mission of Equality Illinois is to secure, protect and defend the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in the state of Illinois.

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Chris Blanchard
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