Illinois Gay Rights Bill Passes, Goes to Governor
The Illinois House completed action Tuesday on a bill that banned discrimination against gays and lesbians and sent it to Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who had said he supported the measure.
If the Democratic governor signs it, Illinois will join 13 other states that bar discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“This legislation sends a clear message that we will not allow our citizens to be discriminated against,” Blagojevich said in a statement.
The measure would add “sexual orientation” to the state law that protects people from bias based on race, religion and similar traits. It applies to discrimination in such areas as jobs and housing.
Opponents argued it would lead to approval of gay marriage and allow cross-dressers to use restrooms of the opposite sex.
Proponents couched the measure in terms of human rights, saying discrimination against gays and lesbians over housing and employment was just as wrong as discriminating against people because of race or religion.
“It’s not about anything except basic human rights for the citizens of Illinois,” said state Rep. Lou Lang.
The House’s 65-51 vote came on the last possible day; the bill would have died had it not been approved before the new Legislature is sworn in today. The Senate approved it Monday.
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