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By Christi Parsons, Chicago Tribune Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jan. 12--SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- As gay rights activists prayed and held hands in the chamber's balcony, the Illinois House on Tuesday approved a bill guaranteeing equal rights to gays and lesbians, prompting the legislature's sole openly gay lawmaker to tearfully proclaim his colleagues had chosen to be on "the right side of history."
The surprisingly strong 65-51 vote came after a chorus of appeals from several black lawmakers, who compared the import of the moment to the civil rights era and called upon other representatives to end modern-day discrimination. A dozen Republicans joined the Democratic majority to pass the measure.
The historic vote puts Illinois in position to become the fifteenth state to outlaw discrimination against gays and lesbians by …