December 21, 2004
Category: Domestic Partners
HRC Report Examines Full Scope of 2004 GLBT State Legislation
'A complete picture of the past year includes 15 anti-gay amendments defeated in the states,' said HRC National Field Director Seth Kilbourn.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released a new report today examining the full breadth of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender-related state legislation in 2004. The 13 states that passed anti-marriage constitutional amendments this year have been well-reported, but this new report - "Equality from State to State" - points out the 15 amendments that were defeated in state legislatures in 2004. Moreover, this report discusses the almost 200 bills that did not deal with marriage but nonetheless affect GLBT people and their families.
"A complete picture of the past year includes 15 anti-gay amendments defeated in the states," said Seth Kilbourn, HRC's national field director. "Where the legislative process provided a forum for deliberative and thoughtful conversation, a majority of these anti-marriage amendments were defeated."
Kansas Republican state Sen. David Adkins played a key role in defeating Kansas' anti-marriage amendment. He said at the time, "Why are we putting a sign outside the clubhouse door that says, 'No homosexuals allowed?' I just think Kansas is better than that." Other legislators who spoke out against adding discrimination to their state constitutions are highlighted in the report.
The report also examines whether party makeup and regional location of state legislatures correlated with the number and types of GLBT-related legislation considered.
One hundred and sixty positive GLBT bills were introduced in state legislatures in 2004. Of these, several important bills became law, such as hospital visitation rights in New York as well as domestic partner registries with a handful of rights in New Jersey and Maine.
"Even in the midst of anti-marriage attacks, several state legislatures moved forward with providing basic rights for same-sex couples and their children," said Kilbourn.
Aside from relationship related legislation, a key victory in 2004 was the addition of gender identity and expression to the existing Connecticut hate crime law. The bill was passed 33-0 in the state Senate and 143-72 in the House before being signed by the state's Republican governor.
"The outlook for state legislation in 2005 looks mixed," said Kilbourn. "We will continue to fight attacks on our families, but 2005 will see some victories for GLBT people."
Already anti-marriage constitutional amendments have been pre-filed in South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. However, the California Legislature will consider a bill to extend marriage equality to same-sex couples and several other state legislatures are expected to work on securing rights and responsibilities for same-sex couples and their children. Additionally, a number of states will consider non-discrimination and hate crime bills that include protections for GLBT individuals.
Download the report.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.