CHICAGO – Two major legislative victories from the past year will be highlighted and celebrated during the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois’ annual Bill of Rights Celebration, scheduled for Saturday, September 24, 2011 at the Westin River North Hotel in Chicago. The event will honor the members of the Illinois General Assembly who voted for the creation of civil unions for all couples in Illinois and the end of the state’s dysfunctional, arbitrary death penalty system. Governor Pat Quinn later signed both measures into law.
The ACLU also is honoring former United States Senator Russ Feingold with its special legislative award, which is given occasionally to extraordinary recipients. Senator Feingold also will present keynote remarks. Feingold, who currently is a visiting professor at Marquette University Law School and founder of Progressives United, served in the United States Senate from 1993 until 2011. In the Senate, Feingold was the only U.S. Senator to vote against the USA PATRIOT Act. He also opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, called early for a timetable to exit the war in Iraq and opposed a host of efforts to limit reproductive freedom. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is writing a forthcoming book “While America Sleeps,” describing what America has done wrong domestically and abroad since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
“It is a privilege to present Senator Feingold with the Special Legislative Award; and, we are so pleased to honor the legislators from both sides of the political aisle who acted so courageously to extend basic protections and dignity through civil unions and end the death penalty system that had embarrassed our states,” said Colleen Connell, Executive Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. “It has been a remarkable year in Illinois with these two advancements. Our members and supporters look forward to celebrating these historic accomplishments. ”