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Bills On Gender Identity, Guaranteed Medical Leave Advance In State House

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Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol buillding in Springfield (AP Photo)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — State legislation is moving ahead to add gender identity to the Illinois hate crimes law, and to require employers to allow medical leave for those joined in civil unions.

HB 4725, by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), would add gender identity to the hate crimes law, as well as immigration status and military status.

The bill has picked up eight co-sponsors since it was introduced on Feb. 3. On Thursday, it was approved by the House Criminal Law Committee.

The committee voted 5-3 in favor of the bill, according to a Chicago Phoenix report. The bill will now go to the full state House for a vote.

Speaking to the Phoenix, Civil Rights Agenda executive director Anthony Martinez says 12 state and Washington, D.C., already include gender identity in their hate crimes laws.

On Wednesday, the House Civil Law Committee approved another bill dealing with LGBT rights. The Illinois Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees a 12-week, unpaid medical leave for anyone in a civil union who needs to care for his or her legal partner, parent, or child under the age of 18, the Phoenix explained.

The bill, also sponsored by Cassidy, is based on the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. It picked up four co-sponsors before being approved by the committee on Wednesday, and one more afterward.

The Civil Law Committee voted 7-4 in favor of the bill, which initially drew concern from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce that it might open the door for couples to sue employers in both federal and state court, the Phoenix reported.

But the publication points out that the bill says straight couples would have to pick either federal or state court if they were suing over an employer’s noncompliance with the law, while couples in civil unions would only sue in state court, since federal law does not recognize their unions.

The full state House will also now vote on the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Cassidy is also seeking amendments to the Prevent School Violence Act, an anti-bullying measure that was approved in 2010. Her proposal would add physical appearance, socioeconomic status, academic standing, pregnancy, being a parent, or homelessness to the categories against which bullying is forbidden, the Phoenix reported.

The proposed amendments would also require schools to create a model template for an anti-bullying policy and advises schools on what kind of action to take in response to bullying, the Phoenix reported.

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