As lawmakers continue to meet in state capitols around the country, HRC is tracking more than 130 anti-LGBTQ bills in 30 states — a shameful number of discriminatory bills surpassing the number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in the first year of the 2015-2016 legislative session (102).
Last week saw the beginning of what will become a steady increase in the number of legislatures adjourning sine die. Legislatures have adjourned in Arkansas, Arizona, Kentucky, Montana, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, and thankfully, equality advocates have successfully stopped anti-trans measures from passing in those states. The Daily Beast recently took a deep dive into why lawmakers rejected those vile proposals.
Here are the major updates from this week:
After introducing a flurry of anti-LGBTQ bills on the final day of filing three weeks ago, Arkansas legislators adjourned Monday for the remainder of the year without any anti-LGBTQ legislation making it through both chambers. Of particular note, after opposition from Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson and business leaders, a dangerous anti-trans bill that mirrors North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2, was killed in committee.
On Monday, in Lubbock, Texas, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard arguments on Mississippi’s HB 1523, which was blocked from implementation last summer, hours before going into effect. HB 1523 is a broad “license to discriminate” law — the only such one in the country. Robbie Kaplan, the litigator who argued on behalf of Edie Windsor in the landmark U.S. v. Windsor case, argued against the law. The panel is currently deliberating and could release its decision at any time. More from The Associated Press.
On Thursday, Governor Roy Cooper brokered a back-room deal with Republican leadership in the General Assembly to pass a shameful piece of legislation they are trying to sell as an HB2 “repeal.” Making North Carolina the latest state to enact an anti-LGBTQ bill into law this year, this legislation is not HB2 repeal. Rather, it replaces one discriminatory, anti-transgender, bathroom bill with another. It bans local LGBTQ non-discrimination protections statewide through 2020 and substitutes the previous anti-transgender bathroom provisions with a new provision that forbids state agencies, public universities, primary and secondary schools, and cities from adopting policies ensuring transgender people have access to restrooms consistent with their gender identity.
Former North Carolina Gov. Pat. McCrory — who lost his seat because of his support of HB2 — and the Family Research Council — an anti-LGBTQ hate group — have come out in favor of the bill, but condemnation for this sham “deal” has been widespread. Indeed, news of the fake repeal was met with a huge national outcry from major civil rights organizations including HRC, Equality North Carolina, the National Center for Transgender Equality, Lambda Legal, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Voto Latino, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; corporations including IBM, Salesforce, Dow and Levi’s; and celebrities like Ellen Page, Jane Fonda, Janet Mock, Tegan and Sara, Montel Williams, Rob Reiner, Jason Collins, Martina Navratilova and Raymond Braun.
States and cities issued bands on taxpayer-funded travel to North Carolina as a result of HB2, and several have reaffirmed these bans after the new anti-transgender bathroom bill was passed last week. Minnesota, New York City and Washington, DC, join San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, Santa Fe, Cincinnati and Salt Lake City in keeping the pressure on North Carolina to repeal its latest anti-LGBTQ law.
While equality advocates have successfully stopped anti-LGBTQ legislation from passing in neighboring states,, we continue to keep a close eye on Tennessee where we are now tracking 15 discriminatory bills. Last week, two bills were killed in committee, companion bills HB888 and SB771. Both bills dealt with regulating bathroom and locker room use for transgender individuals.
HB54, a religious refusal First Amendment Defense Act, was removed from the calendar and rolled to the 2018 session, effectively killing the bill for the this year. The companion legislation, SB127, already passed the Senate.