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Edgewater Resident Named As Gov. Pritzker’s New Department of Human Rights Director

Governor J.B. Pritzker has named an Edgewater resident as his new director of the Department of Human Rights.

Lakewood Balmoral neighborhood resident James L. Bennett was given the position in mid-January and brings to the job a glowing resume of work. His confirmation is currently awaiting approval from the Illinois State Senate.

Bennett was previously the Midwest Regional Director at Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest legal organization dedicated to securing the full civil rights of the LGBTQ community and people with HIV. He also played an important role in both Illinois and Iowa in the fight for marriage equality and successfully helped fight against Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In 2013, Bennett was officially inducted into the City of Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame and received Equality Illinois’ Freedom award in 2018.

According to the Illinois Department of Human Rights website, Bennett will be responsible for overseeing the agency’s primary goals to prohibit discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, age, marital status, physical or mental handicap, sexual orientation, military service or unfavorable discharge in connection with employment opportunities, housing and real estate transactions, access to financial credit and the availability of public services and public accommodations.  Charges of sexual harassment will be overseen by the department as well.

The website goes on to say, “Jim’s integrity and commitment to justice make him a perfect fit to lead the agency charged with enforcing Illinois’ laws ensuring fair treatment for all.”


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