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  WINDY CITY TIMES

State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch elected Speaker of Illinois House, leaders respond
--From press releases
2021-01-13

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State Rep. Kelly Cassidy on Speaker's election:

SPRINGFIELD (Jan. 13, 2021)—Following is a statement from State Rep. Kelly Cassidy in response to today's vote for Speaker of the House of Representatives:

"While Speaker Madigan has dedicated his life to this chamber, it was clear that the time for change has come. And that change comes in the election of the first Black Speaker of the House. That is something our state should celebrate, especially on the heels of the historic criminal justice reform package we passed today—which was a direct result of the work of our Black Caucus. Having a more diverse slate of leaders in Illinois right now is critical, which is why I decided not to put my own name in for Speaker, after some serious consideration.

"While I have always had a strong relationship with and a great deal of respect for Speaker Welch and believe him to be a good man, I reserved my vote and recorded myself as 'present' in the Speaker's election today. I did so because, at the same time that we're ending years of scandal over allegations of sexual harassment and corruption, we have also just been made aware of troubling allegations from Speaker Welch's past. He has denied each allegation, and we certainly have seen plenty of examples of Black men being wrongfully accused. I feel strongly that I have been too outspoken on issues of sexual harassment and domestic violence to simply ignore these questions.

"I have worked with victims for decades. I am a survivor of domestic violence. I trust women. I know the complexities of choosing to pursue charges or other legal action. This isn't a simple situation—and it should not be dismissed as such by any of us.

"It is my fervent wish that these allegations will be vigorously reviewed so that we can move forward as a unified caucus embracing this historic moment."

From Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson:

"Equality Illinois congratulates Rep. Welch on his historic election today as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. From Marriage Equality in 2013 to the Inclusive Curriculum Law in 2019, Speaker Welch has always been a strong ally of LGBTQ Illinoisans and valued partner of Equality Illinois. We look forward to working with him to keep the Land of Lincoln moving forward and ensure Illinois lives up to our shared values of justice, fairness, and equality."

From Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, Jennifer Welch, President and CEO

Planned Parenthood Illinois Action (PPIA) congratulates Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch on his election as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. As a co-sponsor of both the Reproductive Health Act and HB40, which guarantee that abortion is safe and legal in Illinois, Speaker Welch has proven he is a champion for reproductive rights. We applaud his work requiring Illinois health insurance plans to cover contraception without a co-pay and his co-sponsorship of the Equal Rights Amendment. We look forward to continuing to work with Speaker Welch to ensure that Illinois is a safe haven for reproductive rights and access to health care.

We also urge Speaker Welch to continue his leadership on reproductive rights and push for the repeal the Parental Notice of Abortion Act, as well as promote the enactment of PPIA's other 2021 legislative agenda items including family planning funding for lower-income and uninsured people, passing the Responsible Education for Adolescent and Children's Health (REACH) Act, and supporting policies to address Black maternal health disparities.


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