One of the state's largest gay rights groups will open its first office outside the Chicago area later this year.
The new Springfield field office will be a part of an expanded statewide strategy for Equality Illinois, according to field director Patti Dillon.
She says the group's activities haven't been limited to lobbying legislators, but with rights and protections to LGBT Illinoisans being expanded, it wants to place a bigger focus on serving individuals, especially those outside Chicago.

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"(They) don't necessarily live in an environment where they see their rights or see their equality on a daily basis," Dillon said. "That's kind of our new, unique challenge is that we have all these protections, but if you don't know that or if you don't see it in your everyday life, then what good is it?"

Dillon says she'd "love to see" more field offices open in southern or western Illinois, but for now, the group will partner with local LGBT organizations in those areas. 
(Copyright WBGZ / )