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CHICAGO – Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner met with LGBT leaders for the first time today committing his administration to strict enforcement of non-discrimination laws and leaving the door open to new initiatives to protect Illinoisans who experience unequal treatment. 
 
Rauner, a Republican, made the pledges at a meeting with a delegation of leaders from Illinois LGBT organizations including Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal, the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance and ALMA Chicago. 
 
The former Illinois businessman and philanthropist defeated Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn last November and has been mostly silent on LGBT issues since being inaugurated. In 2014, then candidate Rauner said if governor he would have vetoed marriage equality, but later distanced himself from the statement saying it was the law of the land.
 
During this afternoon's discussion at the James R. Thompson Center, Rauner told the participants his office will issue a directive to all state officials and agencies to strictly enforce Illinois non-discrimination and anti-bullying laws, including as they apply to protect LGBT individuals. This directive is a first for Illinois.
 
The Governor's office has also issued a second directive to the Illinois Department of Human Rights to conduct a survey on patterns of discrimination and unequal treatment faced by Illinoisans and to provide actionable recommendations to the Governor by January 31, 2016.
 
"We commend Gov. Rauner for taking these steps," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, who attended the meeting. "They are a good start to our relationship and lay the groundwork for defending the hard-won protections we have achieved."
 
"In his State of the State address, the governor pledged to take 'specific, positive action' to help individuals overcome 'decades of hidden barriers,' and today his actions and his words made clear that LGBTs are included in that pledge," said Cherkasov.
 
The Governor will also appoint a liaison to the state's LGBT community providing an open and ongoing line of communication.
 
"In our conversation and in appointing an LGBT liaison, Gov. Rauner expressed openness to our community's input, and we pledged to remain vocal on issues that affect LGBT Illinoisans," added Cherkasov. 
 
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