Happy New Year ACLU Insiders! 2009 is over and that means the infamous “best of the decade” lists. Lately, I have been bombarded with the best music and movies of the decade, but here is a top ten list to be truly proud of: The important civil rights and liberties advances of the decade.
1. January 2000- Illinois Governor George H. Ryan declares moratorium on the death penalty.
2. August 2003- The Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003 becomes Illinois law. The Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003 helps to open the courthouse doors to persons, specifically racial and ethnic minorities, in Illinois whose civil rights have been violated.
3. May 2004- The first legal same-sex marriages in the U.S. are performed in Massachusetts.
4. August 2004- The ACLU of Illinois attorneys, on behalf of reproductive health care providers, help challenge and shoot down the “Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003,” a federal abortion ban signed by President George W. Bush.
5. January 2005- Illinois adds discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity to the Human Rights Act, the first protection for LGBT Illinoisans against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation, among others.
6. July 2006- Senate reauthorizes the Voting Rights Act, a civil rights law first passed in 1965 to prevent voting discrimination.
7. January 2007- BH v. Samuels: ACLU of Illinois’ success of a class action lawsuit that requires the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center to provide safe and clean living conditions for foster kids in their care.
8. November 2008- President-elect Barack Obama promises to close Guantanamo Bay prison.
9. June 2009- Safford v. Redding: Supreme Court rules in ACLU’s favor that the strip search of a 13-year-old student was a breech of the student’s constitutional rights.
10. December 2009- Funding for abstinence only sex-education programs ends after President Obama signs the FY 2010 Omnibus Appropriations Bill into law. The bill provides $114 million for the first ever teen pregnancy prevention programs.