The Human Rights Campaign Foundation recently released a new report
examining the full breadth of gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender related state legislation in 2004. The 13 states that
passed anti-marriage constitutional amendments this year have been well
reported, but this new report – "Equality from State to State" – points
out the 15 amendments that were defeated in state legislatures in 2004.
Moreover, this report discusses the almost 200 bills that did not deal
with marriage but nonetheless affect GLBT people and their families.
"A complete picture of the past year includes 15 anti-gay amendments
defeated in the states," said Seth Kilbourn, HRC national field
director. "Where the legislative process provided a forum for
deliberative and thoughtful conversation, a majority of these
anti-marriage amendments were defeated."
Kansas Republican State Sen. David Adkins played a key role in defeating
Kansas' anti-marriage amendment. He said at the time, "Why are we
putting a sign outside the clubhouse door that says, 'No homosexuals
allowed?' I just think Kansas is better than that." Other legislators
who spoke out against adding discrimination to their state constitutions
are highlighted in the report.
The report also examines whether party makeup and regional location of
state legislatures correlated with the number and types of GLBT-related
160 positive GLBT bills were introduced in state legislatures in 2004.
Of these, several important bills became law such as the hospital
visitation rights in New York, as well as domestic partner registries
with a handful of rights in New Jersey and Maine.
"Even in the midst of anti-marriage attacks, several state legislatures
moved forward with providing basic rights for same-sex couples and their
children," said Kilbourn.
Aside from relationship related legislation, a key victory in 2004 was
the addition of gender identity and expression to the existing Conn.
hate crime law. The bill was passed 33-0 in the state Senate and 143-72
in the House before being signed by the state's Republican governor.
"The outlook for state legislation in 2005 looks mixed," said Kilbourn.
"We will continue to fight attacks on our families, but 2005 will see
some victories for GLBT people."
Already anti-marriage constitutional amendments have been pre-filed in
South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. However, the California legislature
will consider a bill to extend marriage equality to same-sex couples and
several other state legislatures are expected to work on securing rights
and responsibilities for same-sex couples and their children.
Additionally a number of states will consider non-discrimination and
hate crime bills that include protections for GLBT individuals.
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