A New Era of Fighting for LGBTQ+ Equality

Our community is no stranger to having to fight for our rights. Since before the Stonewall Riots of 1969, LGBTQ+ people have been demonstrating, mobilizing and activating to ensure we have not just a seat at the table, but an equal one. We marked a historic yet unfortunate moment in our quest for equality in May 2023 when the Human Rights Campaign declared a full state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people given the unprecedented level of attacks we’re facing.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 solidifying nationwide marriage equality, our opposition has sought out new ways to undermine our rights. The first major push was around legislation banning transgender people from accessing public bathrooms. We defeated these bills time and time again, proving they only did harm to our community and states as a whole.

As years have gone on, far-right extremists looking to curtail LGBTQ+ people’s rights in every facet of life have not let up. They’ve grown their coffers, gerrymandered districts and mounted massive disinformation campaigns on social media and in the news. Legislation barring trans youth from playing sports with their friends has become a trend, and bans on life-saving, gender-affirming care are a commonplace tactic. Lawmakers are seeking to erase our very existence in classrooms, entertainment spaces and beyond. Unfortunately, this wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation reached a peak this year in legislative sessions nationwide.

By the end of May, we’d witnessed a record 570+ anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced from coast to coast, with the majority of them attacking transgender and non-binary folks. While successful in most cases, we still had to grapple with the fact that more than 80 of these bills were passed — and that’s just at the time of this article’s publishing. Many states are still entertaining executive actions and special sessions that would keep pushing this anti-LGBTQ+ agenda. Beyond losing legal rights and the anguish many in our community are experiencing due to these bills, the lies about our lives are feeding an unprecedented amount of violent anti-LGBTQ+ incidents.

Facing this wave of hate, we decided to not just speak out, but to be louder than ever before. For the first time in the Human Rights Campaign’s more than 40-year history, we declared a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans. It is one thing to see a bill signed into law, but it is a completely different beast to see its impact on our community. Families are questioning if they can remain in their states or risk losing access to care for their trans youth. Teachers who have devoted their lives to educating our youth are asking if they will lose their jobs simply because they are queer. Our community is in danger, and we need to act.

570+ anti-LGBTQ+ bills
220 targeting transgender people
80+ of these bills were passed

LGBTQ+ Americans are living in a state of emergency. The multiplying threats facing millions in our community are not just perceived — they are real, tangible and dangerous. In many cases they are resulting in violence against LGBTQ+ people, forcing families to uproot their lives and flee their homes in search of safer states, and triggering a tidal wave of increased homophobia and transphobia that puts the safety of each and every one of us at risk. HRC is working tirelessly to educate and arm the LGBTQ+ community with information and resources to ensure their safety — whether they’re planning summer travel through regions that are becoming increasingly hostile to LGBTQ+ people, or whether they already live in a state where legislative assaults and political extremism are continuing to put a target on our backs.”

Kelley Robinson, HRC President

In declaring our state of emergency, we looked to three key pillars to support our community:

Impact Report — We released a full-fledged report detailing the impact of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation on our community, sharing the stories of those affected and making it clear to others that this is not a “fabricated” emergency.

Living as LGBTQ+ Guidebook — HRC issued a guidebook outlining LGBTQ+ rights state-by-state while providing those who may need to leave their state or require additional support in a difficult landscape with key resources and information.

Count Us In — Corporate voices are needed now more than ever to sway lawmakers, so we launched a newfound effort to make sure businesses can take action to support their employees, customers and communities.

“There is an imminent threat to the health and safety of millions of LGBTQ+ people and families who are living every day in uncertainty and fear. Our number one priority will always be ensuring that LGBTQ+ people are safe and have the tools they need to defend and protect themselves against acts of hostility, discrimination and — in the most extreme cases — violence,” said Robinson. “It’s also incumbent on our allies across the country to stand with us and make it clear that they won’t sit idly by while extremists attack and malign LGBTQ+ people and our families. We’ll fight tooth and nail to ensure the safety and dignity of every LGBTQ+ person is respected and protected — without exception.”

Despite living in a state of emergency, our community continues to stay resilient. We are still coming together, celebrating ourselves and advocating for our rights. It is more important than ever that we join together to send a clear message: We are not going anywhere.