Anti-LGBT state bills still on the rise in 2017
While we’re being distracted by the tweets of our president, it seems like anti-LGBT state bills are on the rise for this year despite legal progress over protections at the federal level made in the past years.
This was the discovery of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Washington Post.
They also noted that state legislators have filed at least 70 anti-LGBT bills that could limit LGBT rights in just the first half of 2017 alone.
Since 2013, 348 bills were filed of which 23 became law. Since then, the number has risen steadily each year with a steep increase this year.
Anti-LGBT state bills vs. federal regulations
These bills can be divided into two categories. One is championing religious freedom and First Amendment protection for businesses and individuals that don’t want to service LGBTQ customers.
The other one is “bathroom bills” that want LGBT people to use public bathrooms according to their sex on their birth certificate.
Of the two, the number of “bathroom bills” are on the rise despite having economically disastrous effects on the states.
More importantly, these bills are being used against federal regulations that would protect LGBT rights and target gender identity discrimination.
These bills cover a wide range of areas like adoption, foster care, and college life.
However, some preemption bills even disallow local governments from passing anti-discrimination bills “that exceed protections given by the state.”
One example here is the Arizona Senate Bill 1191 that was passed to make the process of changing one’s name harder even as it blocks transgender people from changing their sex on their birth certificates.
Another example is Minnesota’s HF 1183, which allows health-care providers not to provide gender transition care.
The rise of anti-LGBT state bills
The rise of these anti-LGBT state bills could be attributed to the 2013 Supreme Court decision to strike down an important part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which allowed for gains in LGBTQ rights.
Because of this, a number of state legislatures came up with religious freedom restoration acts and First Amendment protection bills, increasing by 50 percent from 2013 to 2015.
These later decreased in 2015 as state lawmakers shifted to “bathroom bills.”
These “bathroom bills” first appeared on the ACLU’s radar in 2015, and more than a third of proposed anti-LGBT bills were those types of bills since 2016.
Last March, North Carolina was forced to repeal HB 2 in the face of economic pressure from businesses and organizations. They replaced this with HB 142, which still doesn’t offer protection for LGBT people.
Currently, Texas has filed 36 bills– more than any other state– that curtail LGBT rights. One has been passed into law. Virginia has passed the most number of bills with four becoming law.
What’s more, 11 states sued the Obama administration over the issue of transgender civil rights legislation against federal anti-discrimination laws in 2016.
Another type of bill that discriminates against LGBT people is the one that protects government employees and religious individuals from legal action if they refuse to perform marriages.
As of 2016, 28 marriage refusal bills have been pushed with one becoming law. In 2017, 16 similar bills have been introduced.