April 13, 2004
Category: Domestic Partners
HRC Report: GLBT Legislation Increases in States
Ninety-Nine State Marriage Bills Show Wide-ranging Debate at State Level
WASHINGTON - Thirty-seven states have or are currently considering marriage related bills in 2004, according to a new report released today by the Human Rights Campaign. HRC's new program "Partnerships for Equality," works with statewide and local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights organizations to defeat anti-gay bills and advance positive legislation for the GLBT community.
"HRC is partnering with state and local organizations to provide the resources needed for critical battles," said Cheryl Jacques, HRC President. "Although marriage-related bills are increasing, HRC is also tracking hundreds of other bills that may advance or stifle GLBT equality."
Key findings of the publication "Equality in the States" include:
ﾴMore than half of the state legislatures introduced legislation favorable to the GLBT community within the first two months of 2004 - including the New Jersey Domestic Partnership bill, which passed and will go into effect in July 2004. Additionally, Maine and Maryland have active bills in the legislature that would provide vital rights to unmarried partners.
ﾴTwenty-six states have introduced or are expected to introduce amendments to their state constitutions that seek to ban marriage rights and, in some cases, other relationship rights for same-sex couples. Amendments in eight of these states have died or been defeated.
ﾴThirteen states have introduced bills to protect gay and lesbian citizens from job discrimination. It remains legal in 36 states to fire a person based solely on his or her sexual orientation and in 46 states solely on a person's gender identity or expression.
Over the next 12 months, HRC will provide close to $500,000 to support state-level legislative and ballot campaigns. These financial resources will be made available through a combination of Equality Fund grants to state GLBT advocacy organizations, cash contributions to ballot measure campaigns, and funding particular projects identified and implemented in partnership with state groups. These projects may include funding for polling, message development, lobby assistance, voter identification and other activities prioritized by the state groups.
"Through its state advocacy program, HRC has provided financial and grassroots mobilization assistance including on the ground staff support to Georgia Equality that has proven to be valuable in our efforts to defeat an anti-marriage constitutional amendment," said Allen Thornell, executive director of Georgia Equality. "I am looking forward to continuing to partner with HRC to achieve equality for GLBT Georgians."
"The Human Rights Campaign is always there when Equality Maryland seeks support," said Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland. "Our organization has relied on the expertise of state legislative lawyer Carrie Evans and HRC's field organizers, who assisted in drafting our Medical Decision Making Act bill and provided crucial grassroots support to help ensure the defeat of a proposed constitutional amendment and so-called Defense of Marriage bill in the House of Delegates. I consider HRC to be a tremendous resource."
"Triangle Foundation and other statewide organizations are winning more and more battles every day," said Sean Kosofsky, director of policy and co-chair of the Federation of Statewide LGBT Advocacy Organizations. "HRC has provided valuable assistance including the Equality Fund grants, grassroots organizing support, the drafting of bills, and legislative talking points to members of the Federation of Statewide LGBT Advocacy Organizations so we can win legislative and electoral battles closer to home."
The publication, "Equality in the States: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Americans and State Laws and Legislation in 2004" can be downloaded in its entirety at www.hrc.org. The publication will be updated and re-released in November as a summary of the 2004 legislative sessions.
"While debates continue in the states, Congress should focus on the economy and health care instead of trying to write discrimination into the Constitution." added Jacques.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that GLBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.