HRC’s Weekly State Fights Report: Pro-Equality Governors Stepping Up to Combat Anti-LGBTQ+ Attacks

by HRC Staff



While lawmakers pursuing discriminatory agendas all around the country continue to push legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community, pro-equality governors are standing up and vetoing these indefensible bills. In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers kept his promise and rejected bills to ban transgender students from participating on sports teams consistent with their gender identity and to force teachers to misgender and deadname students.’ Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill that would have required health care entities to provide parents access to minors’ medical records including for services that do not require parental approval, and she’s expected to veto two more anti-equality bills headed to her desk. And in Kansas, we are watching the desk of Gov. Laura Kelly, who is likely to once again veto legislation that includes a ban on medical care for transgender people.

These vetoes are great examples of how champions for equality can help turn the tide against discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in state capitals. Rather than carrying out the will of the voters, extremist legislators are too often pursuing policies that are designed to cater to the MAGA base. But governors like Evers and Hobbs, who were elected by the entire state, are carrying out the will of the people–who overwhelmingly reject anti-LGTBQ+ discrimination.


Tennessee, which for years has had the dubious distinction of leading the nation in passing discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, is poised to further extend that lead this week — even as states such as Florida, Georgia and West Virginia have seemingly lost their appetite for attacking the community.

Legislation that is expected to get a floor vote this week in the state House of Representatives includes HB 2610, which would terminate the human rights commission with no wind-down period; HB 1634, which would remove the requirement that sex ed programs in school be medically accurate; and HB 2165, which could lead to forced outing of LGBTQ+ students.

These bills have already seen their Senate companions pass and would head to the governor’s desk upon passing the House, where they’d join the already passed SB 1738, which would allow placement of an LGBTQ+ child with a family who believes that LGBTQ+ identities are sinful or problematic and allow foster and adoptive parents to enroll them in so-called “conversion therapy.”

Since 2015, Tennessee has enacted 16 anti-LGBTQ+ laws, more than any other state in the country, and the legislature’s continued march toward restricting LGBTQ+ rights and pushing the community out of public life is not only deeply harmful, but it stands increasingly as an outlier even in its own region of the country.


Anti-Equality Bills:

  • Arizona: On Wednesday, the House passed SB 1182, a bill restricting access to school shower rooms for transgender students and SB 1628, an LGBTQ+ Erasure Act that would also allow government buildings to discriminate against transgender people in spaces like bathrooms or locker rooms, and require schools to gather data based on sex assigned at birth. Because SB 1182 was amended in the House, it will head back to the Senate to be voted on as amended before being sent to the governor. SB 1628 was not amended and heads directly to the governor's desk, where HRC anticipates it will be vetoed.

  • Florida: HB 1291, the Stop WOKE Teacher Training bill which passed the legislature on March 6th, is currently awaiting Governor DeSantis’ signature. This bill would prohibit the State Board of Education from acknowledging the realities of systemic racism, misogyny, oppression, and privilege in trainings for teachers, and would implement a vague ban on instruction that “teaches identity politics.” The bill is part of a continued effort by the DeSantis administration and their legislative allies to censor Florida classrooms and muzzle educators.

  • Iowa: On Tuesday, the governor signed SF 2095. The new law will create a state "Religious Freedom Restoration Act'' and shift the balance of religious rights and and protections from discrimination, access to health care, and public safety to place a thumb on the scale for religious exemptions that can lead to harm for LGBTQ+ people, women, religious minorities, and other vulnerable communities. The law could be used in claims against businesses as well as government entities.

  • Missouri: HB 1518 was referred to the Senate Governmental Accountability Committee, having passed the House last month. This bill would allow student organizations that are political, ideological, or religious in nature to accept university funding and discriminate against other students.

  • Tennessee:
    • On April 1, SB 1738 passed the House, its second chamber. This bill would create a cause of action for a foster or adoptive parent who believes they've been discriminated against because of their anti-LGBTQ+ views. It would also allow placement of an LGBTQ+ child with a family who believes that LGBTQ+ identities are sinful or problematic and allow foster and adoptive parents to enroll them in so-called “conversion therapy.” It is likely to head to the governor’s desk soon.

    • Also on April 1, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB 2782, a bill that creates a cause of action against any person who brings a minor who resides in Tennessee to another state to receive gender-affirming care. Its House companion, HB 2310, passed the House Civil Justice Committee on Wednesday. Additionally, the Government Operations Committee voted Monday to pass HB 2610. This bill would terminate the human rights commission with no wind-down period, create the human rights division in the office of attorney general, and transfer the commission's functions to the new division.

    • On Tuesday, the House Civil Justice Committee passed HB 2936, a bill that would erode trust between students and trusted school staff by forcing school employees to broadly disclose personal information about a student's well-being to their parents. The bill has been referred to the Calendar & Rules Committee.

    • On Wednesday, the House Education Administration Committee passed HB 2165, a bill that could lead to forced outing of LGBTQ+ students, as well as HB 1634. This bill would remove a teacher's obligation to ensure that students are not denied or excluded from important educational programs or benefits on the basis of their family status or their sexual orientation. It would also remove the requirement that sex ed programs in school be medically accurate. Both bills have now been sent to the Calendar & Rules committee.


States across this country may give way to radical policies targeting LGBTQ individuals and families and threatening LGBTQ folks’ everyday lives and their ability to be safe, valued, supported, and welcome being who they are. As long as I am the governor of this great state, Wisconsin will not be among them.”

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers

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