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Overview of 2022 anti-LGBTQ+ bills as the count now tops over 300

As Republican politicians continue to push for limits to LGBTQ+ rights, many LGBTQ+ people & their allies promise to continue fighting

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Graphic via The Human Rights Campaign

WASHINGTON – In May 2021, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) officially announced the worst year for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in recent history. At the time, state lawmakers introduced over 250 bills – from anti-Trans sports legislation to religious refusal measures – in statehouses across the country, 17 of which were enacted into law. 

Now, LGBTQ+ rights in states seem to be taking even more of a hit. According to HRC, over 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have surfaced in 36 Legislatures. As the legislation increases – 41 such measures were introduced in 2018 – so does the number of bills passed and enshrined into state law, though LGBTQ+ advocates often challenge the laws in court.  

The legislation overwhelmingly targets Trans youth, according to the organization, from blocking participation in sports to baring access to gender-affirming care. Lawmakers have also attempted, and in some cases passed, legislation limiting how LGBTQ+ issues can be taught in schools and keeping Trans kids from using restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. 

“2022 is on track to surpass last year’s record number of anti-transgender bills,” Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at the HRC, told the Blade, calling the “legislative attacks” on Trans youth “craven, baseless, and an effort to create more division, fearmonger, and rile up radical right-wing voters at the expense of innocent kids.”

Proponents of the bills say they are to “protect” parental rights, children and religious freedom. However, LGBTQ+ advocates and people continue to denounce the legislation as discriminatory and harmful. 

This year, one of the most talked-about anti-LGBTQ+ measures was Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last month. The legislation will ban classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3 if it survives legal challenges. 

Days after DeSantis signed the bill, the first lawsuit against the measure emerged, arguing the statute “would deny to an entire generation that LGBTQ people exist and have equal dignity.”

“This effort to control young minds through state censorship —and to demean LGBTQ lives by denying their reality — is a grave abuse of power,” the lawsuit says.

Since Republican sponsors successfully pushed the bill through, other states have followed in Florida’s footsteps. Ohio, for example, introduced its version of the legislation roughly a week after DeSantis’ signature. 

In Alabama, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed an anti-Trans bathroom bill with a last-minute amendment to keep educators from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation in grades K-5. Ivey didn’t stop there, also signing a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors. 

Like Florida, LGBTQ+ advocates were quick to announce legal challenges to the legislation. Some of the most prominent LGBTQ+ and civil rights organizations – including the HRC, GLAD and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) – announced a legal challenge in federal court against Alabama’s gender-affirming care ban. 

In terms of legislation introduced, Tennessee has far outpaced other states, according to LGBTQ+ rights organization Freedom for All Americans. The group’s legislative tracker found over 30 bills limiting LGBTQ+ rights in the state – including a “Don’t Say Gay” bill and a ban on LGBTQ-themed literature in schools. But, unlike other Republican-controlled states, none have made it out of the statehouse. 

Arizona has also been a hotspot for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, with at least 17 bills, according to Freedom for All Americans. In March, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed two bills limiting the rights of Trans people in the state – one banning some types of medical care for Trans youth, and the other preventing Trans students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

“Across the country, moderate Republicans are struggling—and too often failing—to stop the takeover of their party by dangerous extremists,” Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), told the Blade at the time, adding: “We are in danger of watching large segments of our nation give way to authoritarian extremism.”

In other states, anti-LGBTQ+ legislation became law without support from its governor – Democratic or Republican. In fact, two Republican governors vetoed anti-Trans sports bills in late March.  

Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills in 2022 (Graphic via The Human Rights Campaign)

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, both Republicans, vetoed legislation that barred Trans youth from participating in sports. Cox said the bill had “several fundamental flaws and should be reconsidered,” while Holcomb said the measure was in search of a problem. 

In the end, however, the Utah House overturned Cox’s veto days later. Holcomb’s veto still stands. 

“This [Utah] bill focuses on a problem of ‘fairness’ in school sports that simply does not exist — but its negative impacts on the mental health and well-being of trans and nonbinary youth are very real,” said Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project. “These youth already face disproportionate rates of bullying, depression, and suicide risk, and bills like this one will only make matters worse.”

In recent weeks, two Democratic governors vetoed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation from their Republican-controlled legislatures. 

Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed legislation that would ban Trans girls from playing on sports teams in Kentucky schools that match their gender identities from sixth grade through college. GOP lawmakers quickly overturned the decision

“Shame on the Kentucky General Assembly for attacking trans kids today,” said Chris Hartman, executive director for the Fairness Campaign. Shame on our commonwealth’s lawmakers for passing the first explicitly anti-LGBTQ law in Kentucky in almost a decade.” 

Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed last weekend two anti-LGBTQ+ measures, the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” and the “Fairness in Women’s Sports” Acts. 

GOP lawmakers in Idaho decided last month to effectively kill a bill criminalizing gender-affirming care, one of the most extreme proposals in the country. It would have made it a felony — punishable by up to life in prison — to provide minors with hormones, puberty blockers or gender-affirming surgery.

In a statement, Idaho Senate Republicans said they “stongly” oppose “any and all gender reassignment and surgical manipulation of the natural sex” on minors. But they also wrote that the controversial legislation “undermines” a parent’s right to make medical decisions for their children.  

“We believe in parents’ rights and that the best decisions regarding medical treatment options for children are made by parents, with the benefit of their physician’s advice and expertise,” the senators wrote. 

Texas is one of the 14 states with no anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, as the state only holds legislative sessions in odd years. However, the Lone Star State has made headlines for anti-Trans orders from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. 

Abbott, in February, directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate reports of gender-affirming care on minors as “child abuse.” The order followed an official opinion from state Attorney General Ken Paxton that called the treatment a form of “child abuse” under Texas law. 

Since, two Texas judges have ruled against the policy – one in district court and the other after an appeal. Still, Paxton vows to keep fighting for the order in court. 

But even as Republican politicians continue to push for limits to LGBTQ+ rights, many LGBTQ+ advocates, people and allies promise to continue fighting against the discriminatory efforts – whether in court or on the streets. 

“The Human Rights Campaign strongly condemns these harmful, potentially life-threatening bills and will continue to use every tool at our disposal to fight for the rights of transgender youth and all LGBTQ+ people,” Oakley said.

In a January 2022 poll by The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth under 25, and Morning Consult, over two-thirds of LGBTQ youth said recent debates over state laws that target transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health.

 “These results underscore how recent politics and ongoing crises facing the globe can have a real, negative impact on LGBTQ young people, a group consistently found to be at significantly increased risk for depression, anxiety and attempting suicide because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society,” Amit Paley, CEO of The Trevor Project, said in a statement.

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Politics

Hillary Clinton labels Justice Thomas ‘a person of grievance’

Clinton cautioned that Thomas was also sending a signal to attack same-sex marriage, sodomy and contraception

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Screenshot/YouTube CBS Mornings

NEW YORK – In an interview with CBS News correspondent and co-anchor of CBS Mornings Gayle King, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reflected on last Friday’s stunning yet expected overturn of landmark women’s reproductive choice case Roe v. Wade.

During the interview, Secretary Clinton cautioned that Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was sending a signal to attack same-sex marriage, sodomy and contraception to lower federal courts and state legislatures and that he would be willing to consider cases that could target those rights.

“He has signaled in the past to lower courts, to state legislatures to find cases, pass laws, get them up,” Clinton said, adding Thomas’s message to conservative judicial activists has been “I may not get them the first, the second, or the third time, but we’re going to keep at it.”

Clinton also noted, “I went to law school with [Justice Thomas]. He’s been a person of grievance for as long as I have known him — resentment, grievance, anger … Women are going to die, Gayle. Women will die.”

Hillary Clinton on abortion ruling: “Women are going to die”

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Politics

U.S. House Speaker hints at legislation to codify same-sex marriage rights

Pelosi suggested such legislation in a “Dear Colleague” letter on Monday to fellow members of the House Democratic caucus

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at SF Pride 2022 by photographer Barbara Kinney (published by permission)

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-SF) hinted at the possibility of legislation to codify the right of same-sex couples to marry, which many fear is in danger after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, as part of an effort to secure “freedoms which Americans currently enjoy.”

Pelosi suggested such legislation could be in the works in a “Dear Colleague” letter on Monday to fellow members of the House Democratic caucus addressing plans for congressional action after the ruling last week in Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization, which eliminated the right for women to access an abortion.

The concurrence of U.S. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is a core component of the letter from Pelosi, who expressed consternation about his rejection of finding unenumerated rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“It is still appalling to me that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would agree that a Constitutional right does not exist if it was not spelled out explicitly and in public when the 14th Amendment was ratified over 150 years ago,” Pelosi said. “While this extremist Supreme Court works to punish and control the American people, Democrats must continue our fight to expand freedom in America. Doing so is foundational to our oath of office and our fidelity to the Constitution.”

Thomas said in his concurring opinion he welcomes vehicles that would allow the court to revisit other major decisions, such as the Griswold decision guaranteeing the right to contraceptives; the Lawrence decision decriminalizing sodomy for same-sex couples and others; and the Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Although Pelosi doesn’t explicitly say she’ll introduce legislation on same-sex marriage, she brought up “access to contraception and in-vitro fertilization to marriage equality,” then added, “Legislation is being introduced to further codify freedoms which Americans currently enjoy. More information to follow.”

“It is clear from how Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell stacked the Supreme Court that elections have ramifications,” Pelosi said. “It is essential that we protect and expand our pro-choice Majorities in the House and Senate in November so that we can eliminate the filibuster so that we can restore women’s fundamental rights – and freedom for every American.”

Any legislation seeking to codify marriage equality would have to get around marriage being an issue administered by the states under the guidelines of the U.S. Constitution. In the past, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has introduced the Respect for Marriage Act, which would have required the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage and states to recognize same-sex marriage performed elsewhere.

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California Politics

Abortion rights: California Constitutional Amendment heads to ballot

The state is expanding efforts to protect women seeking abortions or reproductive care as well as anyone assisting those women

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Capitol building in Sacramento (Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – In November, California voters will have an opportunity to amend the state’s constitution to include the right to an abortion and today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to further protect women coming to California from other states.

“California will not back down from the fight to protect abortion rights as more than half the states in this country, enabled by the Supreme Court, ban or severely restrict access,” said Newsom. “We are ensuring Californians will have the opportunity this November to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution. And we’re not waiting until November to take action, today’s executive order ensures that the state will not hand over patients who come here to receive care and will not extradite doctors who provide care to out-of-state patients here. In California, women will remain protected.”  

The order signed today prevents any information, including medical records and patient data, from being shared by state agencies or departments in response to inquiries or investigations brought by other states or individuals within those states looking to restrict access. The state is expanding efforts to protect women seeking abortions or reproductive care as well as anyone assisting those women.

SCA 10 was passed by the California State Assembly today and now heads to the November ballot.  

Within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last Friday, Governor Newsom signed legislation to help protect patients and providers in California from civil liability for providing, aiding, or receiving abortion care in the state. In addition, Governor Newsom and the governors of Oregon and Washington launched a new Multi-State Commitment to defend access to reproductive health care and protect patients and providers.  

The budget agreement announced yesterday includes more than $200 million in additional funding for reproductive health care services. Governor Newsom recently signed legislation eliminating copays for abortion care services and has signed into law a legislative package to further strengthen access and protect patients and providers.  

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