Simmons Pride ConferenceCHICAGO –State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) along with other elected officials, community activists, business leaders and nonprofit executives held a press conference today in Rogers Park to reflect on the value of Pride Month and offer their thoughts on the state of LGBTQ+ progress in the wake of the Supreme Court case overturning Roe v. Wade

“The LGBTQ community is resplendent and beautiful in its diversity. As the first openly LGBTQ person to serve in the Illinois Senate, I took great pride in convening so many people from across our large community to reflect on Pride and offer their own unique thoughts on the moment we’re living in,” Simmons said. “It was a healing space for so many. It was humbling for me to be in community with so many leaders I respect deeply.” 

"This Pride Month has been a veritable roller coaster of emotions. The highs of parades and parties and reconnecting with friends were often overwhelmed by the lows of historic attacks on our rights,” State Rep. Kelly Cassidy said. “Coming together in community yesterday was a lovely way to acknowledge the complexities of our present and a reminder that there is joy in fighting for liberation."

“It is incredibly important for the community to gather and reflect on why we celebrate pride. Sharing stories and experiences only promotes understanding and compassion,” Paul Ruffino of Rattleback Records in Andersonville said. “It was an honor to participate in Senator Simmons Pride Month Reflection today and I thank him for organizing it.”

Held at Gerber/Hart Library & Archives in Rogers Park, the press conference featured over a dozen LGBTQ+ leaders, activists, and artists as they shared their thoughts, highlights and concerns about the road ahead in the LGBTQ+ community. Coming together in this space alongside Senator Simmons, community figures reflected on the necessity for joy and happiness in political action even in the face of major grief and opposition. 

“Pride Month invites us to celebrate our unique culture, assess our progress toward LGBTQ+ liberation, and recommit ourselves to a just, peaceful, and inclusive world,” David Ernesto Munar, president and CEO of Howard Brown Health said. “We won't get there without a fight -- one as inspirational and determined as the Stonewall riots of 1969 that mobilized the movement." 

“Protest must be rooted in joy. Social movements are always driven by the people and rooted in joy and struggle. The LGBTQ community has given the world so much in the way of joyful protest,” Simmons said. “As we continue to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community, I will be thinking of the LGBTQ teenagers out there who deserve a better, more affirming society and I will do this work with joy.” 

While many speakers talked about celebration as a part of Pride, several speakers also reflected on the recent Supreme Court case which overturned Roe v. Wade and the subsequent opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas, which signaled the court’s intention to review and possibly roll back critical LGBTQ rights. Everyone spoke to the necessity of fighting proactively to keep hard won rights. 

“With the Supreme Court planning to roll back LGBTQ rights and state legislatures across our country taking aim at Trans students, it’s never been more important for allies to show up,” 47th Ward Alderman Matt Martin said. “That means listening to the lived experiences of our LGBTQ siblings, acknowledging that our country is falling backwards in multiple ways, and fighting alongside queer organizers. I’m committed to doing just that in the 47th Ward and beyond.”

"LGBTQ people, especially trans people, are under more focused and vicious attack right now than any time in recent memory," says Stephanie Skora, COO of Brave Space Alliance, the South Side LGBTQ Center. "But that doesn't mean that we're giving up, or running from the fight. As a Jewish woman, from a family that came to Chicago in the 1880s fleeing pogroms in the Pale of Settlement, I know that in the struggle for human rights, dignity, and liberation, we often find roots to our history, paths to our future, and connections to our community. And community is what makes us strong." 

Category: Press Releases

CHICAGO – State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court decision to overturn the right to an abortion protected under Roe v. Wade. 

“I am furious at this colossal injustice that has just been handed down by the nation’s top court. A generation of reproductive rights are being taken away by an oppressive patriarchal, fundamentalist court that is grievously out of touch with the country. The reproductive rights and health care of millions of people – women of all backgrounds, transgender people, and nonbinary people – are under attack. Today is a shameful day in our country’s history.

“We in Illinois are ready, willing, and able to help those who are seeking abortions receive the necessary and often lifesaving health care that they need. I will fight to ensure Illinois has the resources to provide reproductive health care for the countless medical refugees who will no doubt need to come to our state to receive it. I call on the community, advocacy organizations allied with the reproductive justice movement, and other elected officials to raise your voice and resist. I call on my counterparts in the more than 30 states, where a right to an abortion may be severely curtailed or disappear within weeks, to agitate, protest, and fight tooth and nail in the weeks ahead to hold on to these rights for the millions of people and their families who need access to abortion. We must demonstrate, we must take to the streets, and we must make it clear that we will not allow the Supreme Court to undo hard-won generational rights.

Category: Press Releases

Simmons Assyrian Press conferenceSPRINGFIELD – In an effort to ensure people enrolled in Medicaid see continuous coverage, State Senator Mike Simmons supported a newly signed law to create an automatic renewal process for qualifying individuals.

“Because of the bureaucratic re-enrollment process, many families either don’t realize they need to re-apply or simply don’t have time,” Simmons (D-Chicago) said. “This law streamlines the process, cuts red tape and ensures people have the coverage they need.”

According to the Heartland Alliance, up to 30% of people eligible for Medicaid lose coverage at renewal, with Black families being disproportionately affected. The law will remove the administrative hurdles Medicaid recipients face.

Under current law, individuals receiving Medicaid benefits must report changes in income during the 12 months following their approval or last redetermination. House Bill 4343 will remove this reporting requirement during that time, allowing for continuity of coverage for those whose work hours and income aren’t consistent each month. The legislation will also automatically re-enroll individuals with zero income.

The legislation also requires the Department of Human and Family Services to provide information on how to request a hardship waiver in Spanish and a number of other languages.

“Our city has a wealth of diversity,” Simmons said. “It only be fair that we increase access to benefits so people don’t miss out on coverage simply because English isn’t there first language.”

House Bill 4343 was signed into law took immediate effect.

Category: Press Releases

Simmons Mens Health Floor rCHICAGO – To allow students in custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections the opportunity to continue to earn an education while serving their time, State Senator Mike Simmons passed a law to allow students to attend classes remotely.

“I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the Senate for supporting this legislation,” said Simmons (D-Chicago) This removes a systemic barrier for youth in custody who ought to be able to continue their education. We are giving them a better chance of finding employment and thriving when re-entering their communities”

Simmons’ law will create a pilot program to allow remote learning for students of Consuella B. York Alternative High School that are in the custody of the IDOC. If successful, the program could roll out in other alternative schools across Illinois. California currently has programs that allow inmates to work toward their Bachelor’s Degree. Research from the Cal Matters Organization show such programs have contributed to improving opportunities and lowering recidivism rates.

“This is a great step toward shoring up the gaps that exist in serving the needs of those who are incarcerated,” Simmons said. “Doing so will help buttress our overall efforts to lower recidivism rates and increase public safety.”

House Bill 5016 was signed into law and took immediate effect.

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Category: Press Releases

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