With momentum building in the Illinois House of Representatives to approve the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois will recognized the allied organizations in Illinois Unites for Marriage, the coalition working to pass the marriage bill in Illinois, during its annual Bill of Rights Celebration. The event takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at the Westin River North Hotel in Chicago. On hand to join in the occasion will be representatives from Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal and the Human Rights Campaign. These groups came together with the ACLU of Illinois to form Illinois Unites.

The ACLU of Illinois also is hosting a number of couples from across the State who are plaintiffs in the ACLU’s lawsuit challenging Illinois’ current, discriminatory marriage law.

“We are a day closer to winning the freedom to marry in Illinois,” said Colleen K. Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois. “We welcome the opportunity to mark the progress we have made with our clients and our allies in this effort. But we will not rest. We are prepared to continue to work to ensure final passage of the marriage bill in the Illinois House.”

The dinner also features two annual awards. The Roger Baldwin Award (named for the ACLU founder) is being awarded posthumously to Hymen and Lillian Milgrom. Both of the Milgrom’s parents fled pogroms of Tsarist Russia, embedding in both a keen interest in protecting individual rights. The Milgroms, upon their death, made a generous legacy gift to the ACLU of Illinois, a gift that will insure protection of civil liberties in Illinois long into the future.

Paxton Quigley, the Milgroms’ daughter will accept the award for her parents.

This year’s Edwin Rothschild Award is presented to the Chicago office of Kirkland and Ellis. The firm has been intimately involved through pro bono contributions in a number of recent ACLU victories. Kirkland and Ellis, for example, played a critical role in the ACLU’s lawsuit that is leading to reforms at the once dangerous, deplorable and filthy conditions at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

The firm also has been a partner in the ACLU’s challenge – with other disability rights groups – in our successful efforts to reform Illinois antiquated system of warehousing persons with mental illness in large institutions, rather than permitting them to live in their own homes or apartments.

“We are so pleased to honor the Milgroms and the devoted lawyers at Kirkland and Ellis with these awards,” added Connell. “Both not only have advanced civil liberties through their work, but also provided leadership and inspiration for the future.”