Although the Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments on the Constitutionality of same-sex marriage, LGBT groups in the six Midwestern states where same-sex marriage has been legalized are moving forward to combat other issues facing their community.

Donna Red Wing, Executive Director, One Iowa

Donna Red Wing is no stranger to the challenges of identifying as gay, bisexual, or transgender. She was an early fighter for equality in Iowa, and heads up the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization.



Michael Ziri, Public Policy Director, Equality Illinois

For seven years, Michael Ziri worked his way up the Illinois state government. He acted as an agency director, a legislative liaison, and a legislative analyst. But he wanted to do more for the LGBT community. In January of 2015, Ziri was named the public policy director at Equality Illinois. There, he strives to educate the public about issues facing the LGBT community, such as the fight to ban conversion therapy and maintaining a strong budget for LGBT programs and support services.


Stephen Rocheford, President and CEO, Lavender Media Inc.

Rocheford is all about using trends to get the word out about LGBT issues. In 1995 he started Lavender Magazine, the largest gay magazine in Minnesota, to provide commentary and perspective surrounding topics like same-sex marriage. Since then, his company has branched out into online content and a gay news podcast. Rocheford believes he can bring pressing issues to light for the LGBT community and non-LGBT community alike with these mediums.


Katie Smith, President, LGBTA Alliance at Iowa State University

The Iowa State Gay Liberation Front was founded in 1971 at the university, but its current title reflects the important role of “allies.” Smith says allies help those that identify as LGBT get through the emotional process of coming out. Even though Smith is only a supporter of the queer community and not a member, her goal is to help members of the LGBT community squash any fears they might have of coming out.



To see how cities throughout the midwest are rated when it comes to LGBT support, visit the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipality Equality Index.