GURNEE, Ill. – Today, state Rep. Joyce Mason, D-Gurnee, passed her measure out of the Senate to restore state benefits to LGBTQ veterans who have been denied access to them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Mason’s House Bill 1290 now goes to the governor’s desk for final approval.
“Our veterans have sacrificed so much to keep us and our country safe. They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity in all areas of life, but that still isn’t the case for many LGBTQ veterans,” Mason said. “It has been a decade since ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was repealed, but year after year LGBTQ veterans have continued to be denied access to critical benefits and services because of this outdated and discriminatory policy.”
When the now-repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was still in effect, veterans who were outed as LGBTQ were given other than honorable or general under honorable conditions discharges, both of which severely limit the veterans’ benefits they can access. Since “don’t ask, don’t tell” was lifted in 2011, there has been no successful action in Illinois or on the federal level to automatically restore benefits to LGBTQ veterans whose discharge statuses were impacted by the policy.
Mason’s House Bill 1290 received broad support from LGBTQ organizations and veterans’ advocacy groups, including Equality Illinois and the Lake County Veterans Assistance Commission.
“This legislation addresses a long-standing injustice committed against LGBTQ veterans and gives these brave individuals access to the vital benefits and services they’ve been denied for far too long,” Mason said. “I am proud to be a strong ally of veterans and the LGBTQ community, and I’m honored to have been able to carry this much-needed bill through the legislature. I urge the governor to act swiftly to get this important measure signed into law as soon as possible.”
Visit Rep. Joyce Mason’s website
247-E Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
36100 Brookside Dr.
Suites LL 60
Gurnee, IL 60031