CHICAGO – Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) Director Rocco J. Claps today was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame for his service to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual (LGBT) community, and for his work as a longtime public servant in the state of Illinois.
“I’m deeply humbled by this honor and proud to be recognized by Chicago’s LGBT community,” Director Claps said. “I’m also very proud to work for Governor Pat Quinn, who, in word and deed, has been a longtime champion and unwavering supporter of the LGBT community. He believes in the mission of our Department and in inclusion for all, and I’m glad that I live in a state that does as well.”
On November 5, 2013, the Illinois Legislature passed the Marriage Equality bill, making Illinois the 15th state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. Governor Quinn has promised to sign the measure, which will take effect June 1, 2014.
“I congratulate Director Claps on this worthy inclusion into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. He is a strong, longtime member of my cabinet and I’m proud of the work he has done and continues to do for the people of Illinois,” said Governor Pat Quinn.
Claps, 52, is the first openly gay cabinet official in Illinois history. He was appointed IDHR director in 2003 and has become the Department’s longest-serving director. Under Claps’ leadership, IDHR was instrumental in passing legislation to include sexual orientation to the state’s Human Rights Act in 2005, making Illinois the 15th state to offer such protections. Claps also created a Fair Housing Division within the Department, which has effectively enhanced the Department’s service to the public. He also established numerous avenues to reach out to Illinois’ immigrant communities.
Claps began his career in public service as a Communications and Special Projects Coordinator for Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan from 1987 to 1992. During that time, he worked on expanding Hate Crimes legislation to include punishments for anti-gay and lesbian acts of violence. Claps, additionally, held several federal positions in the Administration of President Bill Clinton between 1993 and 1999, highlighted by his tenure as Chief of Staff of the 1996 Democratic National Convention held in Chicago. Claps also held a key post within the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as Director of Scheduling and Advance for then-Secretary Donna E. Shalala.
On Tuesday, Claps was one of 14 honorees inducted at a ceremony led by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Tuesday night at the Chicago History Museum. Claps was lauded for his public service in political and government roles as an openly gay man and for advancing LGBT rights.
.Hosted by the City of Chicago since 1991, the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame is the country’s only known government-sponsored hall-of-fame that honors members of the LGBT communities. The Hall of Fame's purpose is to recognize the achievements of LGBT Chicagoans, their contributions to the development of the city of Chicago, and the help they have provided to others.
Anyone who believes they have been discriminated against should contact IDHR. IDHR’s main office is located in the James R. Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph, 10th Floor, Chicago, 60601, with other offices located in Springfield and Marion. IDHR can be contacted by dialing (312) 814-6200 (general), (312) 814-6229 (housing inquiries), and (866)740-3953 (TTY), (800) 662-3942 (toll free), or go to the agency’s website for additional information: www.illinois.gov/dhr.