As legislative sessions get underway in state capitols across the country, HRC is tracking more than 109 anti-LGBTQ bills and more than 154 pro-equality bills introduced in state legislatures.
Despite broad support for LGBTQ equality and the historic national win on marriage equality in 2015, some state lawmakers have continued to advance an anti-LGBTQ agenda. HRC’s 2017 State Equality Index tracked last year’s continued attacks on the LGBTQ community, monitoring 129 bills introduced in 30 states designed to restrict the rights of LGBTQ individuals and their families.
Of the 109 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this year, seven are HIV criminalization measures that threaten the lives of those living with HIV & AIDS, LGBTQ Americans and their families. Despite advances in medicine that can prevent the transmission of HIV or treat those exposed to the virus, unconscionable HIV criminalization bills are currently being considered in Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, Oklahoma and West Virginia.
But we aren’t just on the defense, we’re also working to pass pro-equality bills across the country. With more than 154 pro-LGBTQ bills filed, we are working hard with our local partners to make sure we are gaining ground in our fight for LGBTQ equality
Here are major updates from this week:
On Feb. 28, the Colorado House passed HB 18-1046, a bill that would ease the process of updating the gender marker on a person's birth certificate by removing the surgical requirement. The bill now heads to the Senate.
Last week, by a vote of 35-19, the Georgia Senate passed SB 375, a bill that would allow child welfare organizations — including adoption and foster care agencies — to turn away qualified Georgians seeking to care for a child in need, including LGBTQ couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced or other parents to whom the agency has a religious objection. SB 375 is discrimination dressed up as a ‘solution’ to a fake problem and it creates unnecessary hardship for potential LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents in Georgia. It primarily harms children looking for a loving home. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary committee. HRC is working with allies and advocates to urge the Georgia House of Representatives to reject this discriminatory bill.
New Hampshire’s House Judiciary Committee advanced HB 1319, legislation prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. New Hampshire state law currently includes protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but not on the basis of gender identity. During two previous hearings, the committee heard moving testimony from people across the state in support of HB 1319. Transgender residents spoke about the importance of these protections and how not having them has deeply harmed them, their families and communities. They testified along with business leaders, doctors, therapists, faith leaders and law enforcement officials, calling for this common sense legislation to protect some of New Hampshire's most vulnerable people. The bill now moves to the full House, where a vote is expected on or before March 7.
On Monday, New Jersey’s state Senate passed two bills in support of transgender equality. By a vote of 30-7, the Senate passed S 478 to update existing law to remove the surgical requirement for a person to update the gender marker on their birth certificate. By a vote of 32-4, the Senate passed S 493, a bill that would require death certificates to reflect a person's gender identity. Both bills now go to the New Jersey Assembly.
Washington state’s House of Representatives approved SB 5722 — legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and debunked practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” Several amendments were added to the bill, which now heads back to the Senate for concurrence before it can go to Governor Inslee’s desk. If signed, SB 5722 could be the first pro-LGBTQ law enacted this year.