In the world of LGBT legislation, the biggest trends this season are marriage and bathrooms. Through our newly launched Legislative Action Center, the Federation is currently tracking an unprecedented 200 bills, including a slew of anti-transgender bills that focus on preventing public facility use in 11 states and religious exemption bills targeting marriage in over a dozen states. The number of bills–both proactive and hostile–increases each day. It’s not just about marriage and bathrooms though: We are also tracking various types of religious exemption bills and bills that would preempt the passage of nondiscrimination ordinances at the municipal level.
Click here to see if your community is included in the fast-growing list of legislation we are tracking.
Many of these bills are similar to legislation we saw last year, but this year we’re seeing a greater variety and in different states. These trends suggest that our opposition is learning and evolving. In order to stay ahead of our opponents, the Federation will partner with and support our member organizations with effective messaging to reach the moveable middle, modeling data to target constituents, and opportunities to share knowledge and skills among the states.
We’ve already scored a victory. The Tennessee House Civil Justice Committee recently voted down the so-called Natural Marriage Defense Act, an extreme measure that sought to require the state to defend marriage as between one man and one woman. “We join HRC in thanking the members of the House Civil Justice Subcommittee for a thorough discussion of HB 1412,” said Chris Sanders of Tennessee Equality Project, a Federation member. “We are grateful that this bill will not be moving this session and remain watchful of any attempts to discriminate against LGBT Tennesseans.” Its passage could have cost the state billions of dollars, and taxpayers would have carried the financial burden of lawsuits challenging its constitutionality.
We’re also tracking proactive equality bills. Statewide nondiscrimination bills are moving forward thanks to the hard work of Federation members like Equality Florida, Equality Virginia, and PROMO in Missouri. Conversion therapy bans–bills that would make it illegal to subject minors to this harmful practice–are also on the agenda in eleven states. Georgia Equality, Equality Ohio and Equality Pennsylvania are among those working on bans. The Legislative Action Center also tracks anti-bullying and safe schools bills, as well as several other positive efforts to protect transgender people from discrimination in healthcare, insurance, and schools.
Federation members in nearly every state will have their hands full this session. With tools like solid messaging to counter religious exemption and anti-transgender bathroom panic, a model that predicts constituent support, and monthly calls and regular convenings to facilitate information sharing, we’re showing up for our members as a strategic partner. Together we can win in the communities we call home.
5 Bills to Watch
- Oklahoma HJR 1059: Constitutional amendment providing protections for entities and individuals that refuse certain acts which violate a sincerely held religious belief..
- South Dakota HB 1112: Transgender students can only participate in high school activities and athletics that match the sex on their birth certificate. Bans the South Dakota High School Activities Association from putting in place a transgender inclusive policy.
- Missouri HB 2303: Prohibits any public school student from accessing certain facilities that do not correspond to his or her sex unless the student and a staff person are the only persons inside the facility
- Kentucky HB 28: Exempts persons, officials, and institutions with religious objections to any marriage from any requirement to solemnize such a marriage.
- Minnesota HF 1620: Conversion therapy with children or vulnerable adults prohibited, and medical assistance coverage for conversion therapy prohibited.