New State Legislative Report Highlights Increase in Anti-Bullying Protections
February 16, 2011 by Carolyn Simon, Deputy Director of Digital Media
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has just released Equality from State to State 2010, a comprehensive report detailing LGBT-related legislation in 2010 and what is expected for 2011. New interactive maps of current state laws accompany the release of the report. Both can be found at www.hrc.org/statetostate2010. The report shows that bills addressing bullying, harassment and discrimination faced by students made more progress than any other legislation with a direct impact on the lives of LGBT people. Recognizing the vulnerability of students who are harassed, 10 state legislatures across the country adopted anti-bullying bills. The new laws vary widely and not all provide enumerated protections, but all make substantial improvements on the prior laws. Other highlights include:
- Marriage equality: Marriage equality took effect in both New Hampshire and the District of Columbia in 2010, while several state legislatures battled back proposals to amend state constitutions to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying. The Maryland attorney general issued an advisory opinion allowing the state to recognize out-of-jurisdiction same-sex marriages. In this election year, most states shied away from marriage legislation.
- Relationship Recognition: Governors played an instrumental part in both moving relationship recognition forward and in stymieing progress. The legislatures in both Illinois and Hawaii passed civil union bills, but Hawaii’s governor vetoed the legislation. Colorado and New York added to the number of benefits available to same-sex couples.
- Adoption: While Courts in two states struck down discriminatory laws that had made it nearly impossible for gay and lesbian parents to adopt, and a new law in New York secured the rights of LGBT parents, anti-equality legislators in several states have introduced discriminatory bills that would attack the rights of all unmarried parents in both adoption and foster care. A new law in New York secured the rights of LGBT parents as equality advocates continued to beat back discriminatory legislation in several states.
“Faced head-on with the issue of bullying in our schools, many states attempted to address the growing problem yet much work remains to be done,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “With the 2011 state legislative sessions underway, we expect an increase in both pro- and anti-LGBT legislation and we will continue to work closely with state LGBT groups and allies in the fight for equality in communities everywhere.”
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