Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois has signed a gay rights bill.
The new law adds sexual orientation to the classes of people protected by the state’s Human Rights Act. It defines sexual orientation as actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or gender-related identity, whether or not traditionally associated with the person’s designated sex at birth. The definition specifically excludes a physical or sexual attraction to a minor by an adult. In deference to conservative objections, the Act states that it must not be construed as requiring any employer, employment agency, or labor organization to give preferential treatment or special rights based on sexual orientation or to implement affirmative action policies or programs based on sexual orientation.
If this report is accurate, the conservatives (and, I suspect, a few liberals) have been snookered again. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 has the same empty bluster about not requiring employers to give preferences, etc., but preferentialists have successfully argued that “not requiring” is not the same thing as “not allowing.”
I have long believed, and argued here more than once, that a good deal of the opposition to equal rights for gays comes from a belief, grounded in experience, that those who say today that all they want is equal rights will say tomorrow that they deserve special preferences.