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As legislative sessions continue in state capitols across the country, HRC is tracking more than 118 anti-LGBTQ bills and more than 178 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. And the attacks are continuing in 2018.

But we aren’t just on the defense, we’re also working to pass pro-equality bills across the country. With more than 178 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. Thirty legislatures are currently in session.

Here are major updates from this week:

Alaska

Yesterday was Election Day in Alaska, where HRC was on the ground in Anchorage, working alongside Fair Anchorage and coalition partners to mobilize members and supporters to vote NO on the discriminatory Proposition 1. The discriminatory ballot measure would rip away crucial non-discrimination protections and enshrine discrimination into law by forcing transgender people to use facilities that are inconsistent with their gender identity. Mail-in voting ended yesterday, and early results indicate voters may reject the anti-transgender proposition. HRC served on the executive committee for Fair Anchorage, and had field staff working on the ground with the campaign to mobilize opposition to Proposition 1 and elevate transgender voices and stories in the fight. A bipartisan list of Anchorage community leaders and businesses spoke out against the proposition, including leaders from faith communities, the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, the superintendent of public education and both mayoral candidates. Results are expected to be certified by April 10.

“We are encouraged by the results of the first 50,000 votes, representing a quarter of all of Anchorage registered voters, and are optimistic that this discriminatory proposition will be defeated as the remainder of mail-in ballots continue to be counted,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “HRC was proud to work on the ground alongside our Fair Anchorage coalition partners, leading transgender advocates, and Equality Voters across Anchorage. We are also thankful for the significant faith and business leaders who have spoken out against this dangerous, anti-transgender ballot measure.”

California

On April 3, AB 2943, a bill to expand existing state protections against conversion therapy using state consumer protection law, was heard in the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection. The bill was passed by a vote of 8-2. It now goes to the Judiciary Committee.

Colorado

Although HB 18-1046, a pro-LGBTQ bill that would ease the process of documentation updates for transgender Coloradans, had passed the House, it was killed in a Senate committee on a party-line vote last week. HB 1245, an anti-conversion therapy bill, will receive a full House vote today. In three previous sessions, this bill has passed the House but not the Senate.

Georgia

The Georgia legislature adjourned on March 29. HRC has worked hard throughout the session  with Georgia Equality and other partner organizations to oppose SB 375, a license to discriminate in the provision of child welfare services. This discriminatory bill did not pass this session, but it has a high probability of being introduced again next session.

Hawaii

SB 270, a bill to protect youth from the harmful practice of so-called “conversion therapy,” needs to pass out of the House Judiciary Committee by April 5 to move forward. The bill passed the Senate last month. It has been scheduled for a hearing and potential vote today, April 4. If it passes out of committee today it would be voted on by the full House most likely next week. If no amendments are passed, the bill would then head to the Governor.

Kansas

In recent weeks, the Kansas House unanimously passed HB 2481, a broad adoption bill, without adding anti-LGBTQ amendments. However, during Senate debate last week, an amendment providing a license to discriminate in child welfare services was added. As amended, HB 2481 would create a license to discriminate for taxpayer-funded child placement agencies to refuse to place children with LGBTQ foster or adoptive parents, single parents or any parents who don’t share all the tenets of the agency’s faith.  In response, the House rejected the changes made by the Senate.  To pass, the bill will either need to be resolved by a conference committee (conferees from both Houses were appointed this week) or would need to be reconsidered and concurred to by the House. HRC is working with Kansas Equality Coalition and preparing for both possibilities by urging our members to speak out against this discriminatory and unnecessary legislation.  The Kansas legislature is scheduled to gavel out Friday and return on April 26 for a veto session.

Maryland

Last week, the Maryland State Senate passed SB 1028, legislation protecting LGBTQ youth in the state from the dangerous and debunked practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” Earlier this week, the bill passed out of the House Health and Government Operations Committee and this morning, SB 1028 passed the full House 95-27 with bipartisan support.  If signed by Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland would join the growing number of states and municipalities adopting critical protections for LGBTQ youth.

Oklahoma

SB 1140, a license to discriminate in child welfare services bill, which has passed the Senate, is likely to have a hearing next week in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill would make it harder for kids to find foster and adoptive families by allowing taxpayer-funded government contractors to refuse to work with LGBTQ individuals, same-sex families, or other qualified prospective parents who do not share all the tenets of the contractor’s faith.

Tennessee

HB 2620, an anti-transgender bill that would force the state’s attorney general to defend or pay for the defense of anti-transgender policies adopted by schools, was passed by the House Civil Justice Committee last week. It was then sent to the Finance Ways and Means Committee for a hearing yesterday, where the bill was “taken off notice,” meaning it likely will not move forward.  Also yesterday, the Senate companion SB 2480 failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. HRC was on the ground for the hearings, submitted written testimony against both bills and worked alongside the Tennessee Equality Project to oppose these bills, which are so far this year the only anti-transgender bills in the country to receive a positive committee recommendation. The Tennessee legislature is expected to adjourn on April 16.


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