Chicago, IL -
The newly formed Chicago LGBT Health Advisory Council on Monday encouraged members of the Illinois House to pass the the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act 'for the health of all our neighbors.'
"A vote for this bill is a vote for public health," read an open letter to to members of the Illinois House of Representatives.
In the letter, the members of the Council provide evidence showing the connection between increased equality under the law and improved public health.
The authors compare marriage equality to past civil rights issues, citing previous studies that show the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 led to increased life expectancy and decreased infant mortality among African Americans. These improvements are credited in part with increased access for individuals as well as decreased social stigma associated with unequal status under the law.
"Civil rights are important for health because the social differences that result from inequalities actually have more impact on the health of an individual than even medical care," the letter continues.
The letter goes on to detail the vast health inequalities that exist for LGBT Americans including increased likelihood of bullying against LGBT youth, decreased rates of health insurance and increased likelihood of general psychological distress.
The letter continues, "LGBT Illinoisans deserve the same rights and opportunities as everyone else - including not only the right to marry but also the right to live a healthy life."
The Chicago LGBT Health Advisory Council is composed of sixteen community leaders and was formed last month under the Chicago Department of Health to provide insight and input to city leaders determining policy affecting the health and well being of LGBT residents.Read the full letterFrom a news release