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Illinois legislator can’t define ‘opposite sex’ during debate

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(The Center Square) – During debate about a bill bringing state statute in line with federal statute, an Illinois state legislator couldn’t give her personal definition of the term “opposite sex.”

State Rep. Terra Costa Howard, D-Glen Ellyn, carried Senate Bill 3351 Thursday. The measure amends the Subsidized Housing Joint Occupancy Act providing that an elderly parent with an adult child with disabilities of the opposite sex “shall not be required to occupy subsidized housing with only one bedroom.”

“We want to give people dignity and this is a way to align the state of Illinois with federal standards,” she said.

The bill does not offer a definition of “opposite sex.”

Republican state Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, asked Costa Howard for her definition of opposite sex. She couldn’t provide it.

“Oh, representative, let’s go,” Costa Howard said before reading part of the bill that did not include the definition. “It means as defined in the federal definitions.”

Halbrook said he didn’t have that handy and asked for Costa Howard to provide. She didn’t have the definition.

“What does that mean to you,” Halbrook said. “This is your bill, so just explain to this body what that means to you.”

Costa Howard said her personal feelings on what it is are irrelevant. Halbrook also asked her personal feelings on whether the definition of “opposite sex” is static or fluid.

“Well I think, what my personal feelings on how we define opposite sex is frankly irrelevant,” she reiterated.

Halbrook said before the House voted on the measure, legislators should have a clear definition of “opposite sex.”

Costa Howard said she and her Democratic colleagues in the supermajority are moving forward to give dignity to those living in subsidized housing.

“You do you and we’ll do us,” she said.

The measure ultimately passed and can now be sent to the governor for further action.