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Huge Week of LGBT Legislation Throughout the US

By |2016-03-31T09:00:00-04:00March 31st, 2016|National, News|

Immediately following the controversial passage of HB 2 in North Carolina, businesses, universities, celebrities, community leaders and thousands across the country took to social media denouncing the law. Hundreds across NC joined rallies, protests and vigils and tens of thousands signed petitions calling for the law’s repeal. Even the White House spoke out against the new law.
In advance of the North Carolina General Assembly’s regularly scheduled session beginning on April 25, the ACLU of North Carolina is calling upon Gov. McCrory and the NCGA to repeal the discriminatory HB 2 and replace it with comprehensive, LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination protections statewide in order to repair the state’s damaged reputation as hostile to the LGBT community.
The ACLU reports that a variety of other legislative items that impact equality are being moved on this week.
Georgia, HB 757: Early Monday morning, Republican Gov. Nathan Deal announced that he would veto a broad religious exemptions bill that the Legislature passed late last week. Of note, the NFL came out against this harmful measure. In the press event where he announced the veto, Gov. Deal said that HB 757 “doesn’t reflect the character of our state or the character of its people.”
Mississippi, HB 1523: A broad First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) that also would allow anyone, including businesses and individuals, to act upon their discriminatory beliefs about marriage for same-sex couples, sexual relations outside of any marriage or gender identity, passed the House and the Senate Judiciary Committee. A vote could occur as early as this week; the legislative session lasts until late April.
Kansas, SB 175: A bill that would require public colleges and universities to fund student groups even if they do not comply with a school’s nondiscrimination policy was carried over from the 2015 legislative session after having passed the Senate. This was carried over from the 2015 legislative session, after having passed the first chamber. The bill was revived, quickly passed the House and was signed by Gov. Brownback.
Tennessee, SB 2387/HB 2414: After a stunning defeat last week in a House committee, a bill that targets transgender students was revived and is now expected to be heard again before committees in both chambers over the coming weeks. The bill would force students to use restrooms and locker rooms that match the students’ birth certificates regardless of the student’s gender identity. Of note, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has concerns that the bill’s passage could cause public schools to lose federal funding.
Missouri, SJR39: A broad FADA-like religious exemptions constitutional amendment would allow religiously affiliated organizations receiving state funds, businesses and individuals to discriminate against LGBT youth, same-sex couples, children of same-sex couples and more. Big companies including Dow Chemical and Monsanto came out against the bill, and the NCAA has raised concerns as well. The measure now moves to the House where timing remains up in the air. If the Legislature passes this bill, it would go on the ballot for a public vote either in a special or general election, to be determined by the governor.
Kentucky, SB 5: Last week, SB 5, a bill that would have required separate marriage licenses for same-sex and opposite-sex couples, was amended so that there would be only one marriage license in Kentucky (the new marriage license “would allow applicants to identify themselves as bride, groom or spouse and would not require the county clerk’s signature. That could be done by a deputy clerk”). Both Gov. Bevin and the Clerks Association are supporting this version. This may pass this week.
Virginia, SB 41: The ACLU is still waiting to see whether Gov. Terry McAuliffe will veto SB 41, which passed the Legislature over two weeks ago. The governor has until April 10 to act on this bill, which would allow any person or religiously connected organization to refuse service to a married same-sex couple. This means, for example, that a religiously connected hospital could refuse to recognize a married gay or lesbian person as a spouse for medical decision-making or visitation rights, or a homeless shelter that gets government funding to offer housing assistance to families could refuse shelter to a gay couple and their children.

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Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.