For Immediate Release Contact: Bernard Cherkasov
July 15, 2009 773-477-7173
Statewide Gay Group Redoubles Efforts for Civil Unions
Hires new CEO and appoints new officers
CHICAGO – Equality Illinois, the state’s largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, announced its plans to intensify the push for civil unions in Illinois, hiring a new CEO and appointing a new slate of officers.
During the last legislative session, the House bill to allow civil unions in Illinois was successfully voted out of committee, but never came up for a full vote. The organization is preparing to renew the push, optimistic that the bill can get enough votes to succeed, and is working with community, religious, and political leaders to solidify support.
As part of the effort, the organization announced appointment of Bernard Cherkasov as its Chief Executive Officer. Cherkasov, a trained attorney, brings expertise negotiating agreements with governmental authorities and elected officials and had served at the Supreme Court of Israel as international law clerk to Chief Justice Aharon Barak. Cherkasov also brings Washington experience, having planned political advocacy and engagement strategies in the organized Jewish community. “The skills and experience that Bernard brings to Equality Illinois will richly enhance our work for fairness for all Illinoisans,” said Rick Garcia, Director of Public Policy. “We are thrilled to have him as part of our team.”
In an open letter to the organization’s supporters, Cherkasov said: “We have come a long way in the struggle for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, but we haven’t arrived. … We are counting on you to help us reach the finish line. That means that everyone who supports LGBT equality has to participate in the effort.”
The organization also announced election of Jeremy Gottschalk as President of the Board and Dalila Fridi as Chair of the Capitol Club – the major donor group and financial backbone of Equality Illinois. Gottschalk and Fridi bring nearly ten years of combined tenure on the Equality Illinois Board of Directors. “We have very big shoes to fill, but we are both up for the challenge. It is an honor to serve the community in this capacity and we look forward to the hard work we have ahead to achieving equal rights in the State of Illinois” said Gottschalk. Fridi added, “This is an exciting time to be involved and we are on the frontlines fighting the good fight. I assure our supporters and donors that we will not rest until we achieve victory on every front.”
Equality Illinois was founded to secure, protect and defend the civil rights of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender Illinoisans. It is one of the Midwest’s largest gay civil rights organizations.