I think I'm completely in shock.
The Illinois House voted to ban discrimination of gays and lesbians Tuesday, sending the governor a bill that gay rights activists have sought for more than a decade.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich called it "a landmark day in Illinois" and said he looked forward to signing the legislation. "This legislation sends a clear message that we will not allow our citizens to be discriminated against," Blagojevich said in a statement.
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, which had held up previous attempts to pass similar legislation, approved the bill Monday by a vote of 30-27, the minimum number of votes required.
The legislation, once signed by the governor, will add "sexual orientation" to the state law that protects people from bias based on race, religion and similar traits. It applies to discrimination in jobs, housing, public accommodations or credit.
It took four years to amend the Illinois Human Rights Act by adding the words "sexual orientation" to Section 1-102, paragraph A. One word every two years. (Of course, that's not entirely fair. While those are the two most important words, there's also an explanatory paragraph to be added to Section 1-103. But those are, of course, the two words to be explained; once they're allowed in, the rest is fairly simple.)
Still, progress is progress, and there are no doubt people in other states wondering how in hell we managed to get that much progress only three months after that dreadful election. (So am I, frankly.)
It's going to be fascinating to see what happens after this. The governor has said he will sign, and there's no reason to expect that he wouldn't.
There will be lawsuits, of course. Conservatives say that religious and "values-based" organizations and businesses will find themselves sued to force employment ... and frankly, they probably are right about that. This despite the fact that the Illinois Human Rights Act is fairly clear in exempting such institutions and organizations from its scope. And I expect that archconservative groups will sue to get the Human Rights Act struck in its entirety as violative of their constitutional rights. They won't succeed, I shouldn't think, but I'd be astonished if they don't try.Posted by iain at January 12, 2005 02:44 AM