Chesney Guest Column: Dystopian, Discriminatory Vaccine Passports should be Hard Pass for Illinois

Whenever we find our State following in the footsteps of Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, we should turn around and do the opposite course of action.

Unfortunately, some Illinoisans are pushing for Vaccine Passports in Cuomo’s example. This week, the Cubs and White Sox both announced they would be designating areas for fully vaccinated fans, while Chicago also announced a concert series for fully vaccinated residents only.

In case you are struggling to keep up- for Democrats, Voter ID is discriminatory, but Vaccine Passports are not. The first vaccine passport of its kind was launched in New York by Democrat Governor Cuomo. Called the “Excelsior Pass,” it works through a big tech app, enabling users to prove their vaccination status or COVID-19 test result in order to gain entry to events and businesses. Madison Square Garden and the Times Union Center in Albany have already begun using the app, which was further expanded to “smaller arts, entertainment and event venues” in April.

I filed legislation in the Illinois House this week to ban vaccine passports in Illinois. Vaccines are a personal medical choice and those that do not take it should not be excluded or stigmatized. Vaccine passports should not be a requirement for Illinoisans. This would not only be an infringement on the liberties and freedom of Illinoisans, but also a violation of our constituents’ medical privacy.

Operation Warp Speed, under President Trump, allowed the development of COVID vaccines at a rate we have never seen in world history. These remarkable medical breakthroughs are helping allow Americans to get back to work and are protecting those who are medically-able and willing to receive the vaccine. What we cannot allow, though, is disparate treatment of our neighbors based on medical treatments. It is nearly inconceivable to do so. To envision a society where we restrict the rights of some by the nature of medical treatments they have received or not received is not only discriminatory, but dystopian.

To date, at least 19 states have initiated legislation or issued executive orders banning or severely restricting the use of vaccine passports and prohibiting discrimination based on vaccine status. They include Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Iowa, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

While my bill is limited to public events, additional legislation may be needed if politicians’ hyperbolic rhetoric about protecting businesses who choose to discriminate based on vaccine status continues down this path. As we are now 14 months past a proclamation of 14 days to “flatten the curve,” the continued march by some to take away civil liberties and freedoms with little to no science to back it up is exactly the type of existential challenge the founding fathers warned against.

Beyond that, lets really consider some of the practical implications of this type of proposal and the hypocrisy that lies herein. Democrats fought to continually make accommodations for pregnant and nursing mothers in public buildings, but under this proposal many unvaccinated pregnant and nursing mothers would be unable to enter public buildings if this proposal goes through. Democrats have supported HIPAA medical privacy rights, but then want to throw the baby out with the bathwater with vaccine passports. Democrats love to say, “my body, my choice” when it comes to protecting abortion and abortionists, but support limiting one’s free movement and assembly with vaccine passports.

Do Democrats really want to require vaccine passports for protests? Music festivals? Public park enjoyment? Union rallies? What about for use of public transportation? To renew your driver’s license?

I am under no illusions that my legislation to ban vaccine passports will become law under Democrat Supermajority control in the Illinois House. However, it is important for the public to be asking their elected officials these questions and holding their feet to the fire if the response is to take away freedoms rather than strengthen rights that our Constitution proclaims are God-given and government-recognized.

Speak up while we still have the ability in this country!