Well, I'll be...
For the first time ever, the Illinois Senate approved a controversial measure Monday that would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians in matters of housing and employment, clearing a long-standing hurdle to passage and inspiring one key sponsor to proclaim a victory for "fundamental freedom."
With only two days left in the term of the outgoing General Assembly, the Senate sent the House the proposal under pressure from Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago), Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the governor's sister-in-law, gay activist Deborah Mell.
Senators passed the bill 30-27, with one member voting present.
The measure now heads to the House, where sponsors vowed to pass it. The lower chamber pushed the same measure through committee Monday and now has it queued up for a floor vote on Tuesday.
If sent to Blagojevich and signed into law, the measure will add "sexual orientation" to the list of reasons for which people cannot discriminate in housing, lending and employment. The measure specifically states that the law would not require any employer, lender, real estate agent or landlord to give preferential treatment or special rights to people based on their sexual orientation. [...] Gay activists expect the House to approve the measure. Rep. Larry McKeon (D-Chicago), the only openly gay member of the legislature, said he thinks he has more than the minimum 60 votes needed to pass the measure. Four years ago, when the proposal was last before the House, no fewer than 63 lawmakers committed to vote for it, he said. Whether they have a strong opinion about homosexual behavior or not, McKeon said, many House lawmakers think the measure is simply a matter of fairness. "I know firsthand the extent of discrimination in employment and housing," McKeon said. "It's usually those with the least amount of resources that are impacted. The whole issue is quite real. ... I will sleep very comfortably when I know that this last bastion of sanctioned discrimination has been wiped out."
So now that the more conservative chamber has passed the bill, the question is whether or not the more liberal chamber will act in time.
And whether or not those 63 lawmakers are (a) still in the chamber -- we've had an election since then, after all -- and (b) whether or not they were telling the truth when the committed to voting for it. If the law actually passed, the state would stand in stark contrast to all those other states passing antigay laws and amendments in the past few months.
Mind, I'll believe it when I see it on Hot Rod's desk, ready for him to sign.
But still ...Posted by iain at January 11, 2005 12:16 PM