Longtime LGBT Ally, Chicago Pol Dawn Clark Netsch Passes Away At 86

Dawn Clark NetschDawn Clark Netsch, a longtime supporter of the LGBT community in Chicago and Illinois, has died after a battle with ALS.

She was 86.

Netsch, who was first elected to the state senate in 1972,  sponsored Illinois’ first gay-rights bill in the 1970s.

She was also the first candidate in the state to put endorsements from LGBT political groups on her campaign literature.

In 1974 Netsch hired Glynn Sudbery, an openly gay man, as her campaign manager, and another, John Chester, as a campaign adviser. During the height of the AIDS epidemic, she pushed for funding for community-based HIV/AIDS service providers. Netsch also served as Comptroller, and was the first woman to receive the Democratic nomination for governor of Illinois.

“Dawn was an Illinois treasure,” stated friend Rick Garcia, director of the Equal Marriage Illinois Project. “She was among the first to sponsor gay rights legislation and she was a strong and ardent supporter of LGBT issues. Her impact on Illinois politics is unparalleled. She will be fondly remembered and sorely missed.”

Netsch, who marched annually in Chicago’s gay Pride parade, was inducted into the city’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1995.

Rest in peace, Dawn