Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Update
Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Update
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, is working to keep you updated on the latest actions happening in the states. We’ve witnessed significant movement already in 2009, with no major anti-LGBT legislation moving forward in any state. After critical work in the ’06 and ’08 elections, the movement is now making important gains and protecting fair-minded majorities. For a listing of the latest state laws, visit: www.hrc.org/state_laws. For a list of specific bills currently introduced in state legislatures throughout the country, visit: www.hrc.org/StateUpdate.
HIGHLIGHTS AND RECENT DEVELOPMENTS:
· In Maine, we are expecting hearings to be held TOMORROW, Wednesday, April 22 on a marriage equality bill for same-sex couples. HRC has staff on the ground working in partnership with Equality Maine to build support for the marriage bill. Phone banking is also being done from HRC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Learn more at the HRC blog: http://www.hrcbackstory.org/category/states/maine/
· In Connecticut, a bill seeking to codify the state Supreme Court’s decision recognizing marriage equality has advanced through a key committee. There may be a final vote THIS WEEK. The bill would also recognize marriages performed in other jurisdictions, and relationships providing the same benefits as marriage, as valid marriages in Connecticut. In late 2008, HRC field staff, in partnership with Love Makes a Family and MassEquality, helped conduct an activist training to provide the skills necessary to build grassroots support for marriage.
· Same-sex couples will be able to marry in Iowa by the end of April. HRC has been working in Iowa since 2006, investing $110,000 to create and grow One Iowa to build a strong voice for equality in the Heartland. One Iowa and HRC worked together to engage members and supporters in grassroots efforts to increase participation in the political process and speak out on issues of concern to the LGBT community. In elections that year, Democrats won control of the state House, and broke a tie in the Senate by gaining several new seats. HRC has staff on the ground right now helping to organize for marriage day and thank supportive legislators.
· In Vermont, same-sex couples will be able to marry on September 1. HRC’s National Field Director Marty Rouse, who has worked on electoral politics in Vermont since 1996, was on the ground lobbying key members of the state House and Senate in the weeks leading up to the marriage vote. HRC began supporting Vermont in 2000, by sending a staff member to help re-elect then-Gov. Howard Dean after he signed the controversial and historic first civil unions bill into law. To check out Marty’s recent work, visit our blog: http://www.hrcbackstory.org/author/mrouse/
· In New Hampshire, the House passed a marriage equality bill; it is pending in the Senate. HRC is expecting a vote very soon. HRC has a staff member on the ground working for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, including special election campaigns and preparatory work for the 2010 state elections. Since 2006, HRC has invested significant staff and financial resources. By working with key political leaders, we helped elect fair-minded majorities in the state house and senate for the first time in over 100 years. Follow HRC working in New Hampshire online, http://www.hrcbackstory.org/author/kbach/.
· In New York, Governor Paterson introduced a bill late last week that would provide marriage equality under state law. HRC has staff on the ground right now working in New York to pass the bill. To read our media release from Thursday, visit: http://www.hrc.org/12509.htm In 2007, HRC helped elect Senator Craig Johnson on Long Island in a special election. The election was considered the tipping point for the Democratic takeover of the New York State Senate, as the seat was held by Republicans for over 100 years. In 2008, HRC New York PAC contributed over $120,000 and had two field staffers, plus a campaign college staffer, on the ground.
· While we await the Supreme Court ruling in California, HRC announced the sponsorship of “Camp Courage,” an intensive two-day training institute organized by the California-focused Courage Campaign. The training program provides grassroots activists the practical, hands-on skills to organize in their communities on marriage equality for same-sex couples. A San Diego training took place the weekend of April 18. The Oakland/Bay Area training will take place from May 2 – May 3. To learn more, visit: www.CourageCampaign.org/CampCourageArmy.
· Faith efforts in California: HRC is supporting California Faith for Equality with staff and financial assistance. HRC Religion and Faith Program Director Harry Knox will conduct trainings throughout California to help clergy and lay leaders know how to build advocacy for LGBT equality into their routine ministry functions. These trainings result in sustained, low-cost, high-impact public education, rooted in a broader framework of justice-seeking at the intersection of multiple oppressions.
· In Washington, D.C., legislation that would provide recognition for marriages of same-sex couple from other jurisdictions was approved 12-0 in an initial vote by the D.C. Council. A final vote is expected May 5; after approval by Mayor Fenty, the bill would enter into a 30-legislative day congressional review period.
· In Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, and Wyoming, proposed anti-marriage amendments were defeated or effectively killed. An anti-marriage resolution (seeking to establish a commission to study amending the state constitution) passed the House in West Virginia.
· In Hawaii, civil union legislation passed the state house but later stalled in the Senate. While it is tabled, the bill may be brought back up for a vote in the next few weeks. HRC teamed with the Family Equality Coalition, a state-based LGBT group, and sent a staffer to organize in the state. To read reports from on the ground, visit: http://www.hrcbackstory.org/author/twagner/
· In New Mexico, the domestic partnership bill was defeated in the Senate, but it is possible that the legislation will be considered again if a special session is called by Gov. Richardson. The bill would provide all the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of marriage under state law. HRC had three staffers on the ground, developing and implementing grassroots lobbying strategies. We partnered with Equality New Mexico, the ACLU of NM, and America Votes NM, among others. Read reports from the ground: http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2009/02/new-mexico-domestic-partnership-bill-stalls-in-state-senate/
· In Colorado, the legislature approved the Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act, permitting same-sex couples to enter into agreements and receive certain rights. The governor signed the legislation into law on April 9, and it will go into effect on July 1.
· In Maryland, Gov. O’Malley’s budget was approved by the legislature, providing domestic partner benefits for state employees. Also in Maryland, legislation was passed providing that domestic partners will be exempt from inheritance tax on certain property (e.g. a home).
· In Washington state, the legislature voted to expand the existing domestic partner registry to allow partners access to the rights and responsibilities given to spouses under state law. The legislation is expected to be signed into law soon.
· THIS WEEK in Nevada, Allyson Robinson, HRC’s Associate Director for Diversity, is meeting with key legislators in support of fully inclusive legislation being pushed at the state’s first-ever lobby day.
· A bill seeking to add gender identity to New Hampshire’s existing anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws narrowly passed the House. A vote in the state Senate is expected THIS WEEK. Allyson Robinson, HRC’s Associate Director for Diversity, testified before a House committee in February.
· In Connecticut, HRC’s Associate Director for Diversity Allyson Robinson testified in support of an anti-discrimination bill that would add gender identity and protect the entire LGBT community. This bill was introduced February 11, 2009, and was referred to the Joint Judiciary Committee. Hearings were held March 19, 2009.
· In Massachusetts, the state is considering adding gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination law. The legislation is pending in both chambers. Diego Sanchez, a member of HRC’s Business Council, testified in support of gender identity in the previous session. HRC also provided monetary support to the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.This session, HRC generated more than 1,000 constituent contacts with Massachusetts legislators by mobilizing members and supporters with action alerts and calls to participate in the Transgender Lobby Day.
· An inclusive bill was narrowly approved by a House committee in Pennsylvania (the farthest such a bill has ever advanced in the PA legislature). The legislation is currently pending in the state House, and a vote could come in May or June. In 2006 HRC gave $100,000 and provided two campaign college staffers and six additional staff to defeat Sen. Rick Santorum and elect a fair-minded leadership to the state House. In 2008, HRC contributed about $80,000 to protect the majorities in the state House.
· An inclusive bill protecting the LGBT community passed the North Dakota Senate on February 18, but was defeated in the House on April 3. By coordinating with the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, HRC helped increase grassroots support for the bill and to create a robust and growing movement for LGBT equality in North Dakota.
· A bill seeking to add gender identity to existing laws in Maryland died when the legislature adjourned April 13. Allyson Robinson, HRC’s Associate Director for Diversity, testified before the legislature for gender identity protections. HRC members and supporters also conducted phone banking and sent numerous emails – all in coordination with Equality Maryland, the lead group on this bill.
· In Washington State, the legislature voted to add gender identity protections to existing hate crimes law. The bill is now moving to the governor’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law.
· In Kentucky, legislation that would have prevented same-sex couples from adopting or foster parenting died when the legislature adjourned.
· Anti-parenting legislation is still pending in Tennessee. As written, the legislation would prohibit adoption by any person “involved in a cohabitating sexual relationship outside of a marriage.” HRC is coordinating with the Tennessee Equality Project, sending alerts to members to defeat the bills.
· A safe schools bill with protections for LGBT students passed the Minnesota Senate April 16. It is pending before the Senate. The bill would require the state Department of Education to implement procedures protecting students from harassment and violence.
For a list of specific bills currently introduced in state legislatures throughout the country, visit: www.hrc.org/StateUpdate.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.