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Illinois house, senate pass gay rights bill

Illinois house, senate pass gay rights bill

The Illinois house on Tuesday passed a bill banning discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and sent it to Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has said he supports the measure. If the Democratic governor signs it, Illinois will join 13 other states that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. "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 a 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 that the measure would lead to approval of same-sex marriage and allow cross-dressers to use the restrooms of the opposite sex. Proponents couched the measure in terms of human rights, saying discrimination against gays and lesbians over housing and employment is 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 representative 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 Wednesday. The senate approved it Monday by a vote of 30-27.

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