Advocates of same-sex marriage are getting closer to a full victory in the US: it's now legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry in 37 states and Washington, DC. But while this progress occurs, state legislators are introducing bills that would claw back some recent legal gains for LGBT rights.
A new report by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights organization, found that lawmakers in at least 26 states have proposed a wave of anti-LGBT bills:
The various bills take vastly different approaches. Here's a quick rundown of how the proposals would scale back LGBT rights if passed, based on HRC's map:
- Religious refusals: These bills could give more latitude to residents, including government officials, to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds. The proposals differ from state to state, but they could protect businesses' legal right to refuse service to same-sex couples based solely on their sexual orientation, let state employees deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and narrow adoption services for prospective gay and lesbian parents.
- Anti-transgender: These proposals restrict transgender people's access to bathrooms, locker rooms, and other public venues, as well as school sports, by forcing them to use facilities associated with the sex they were assigned at birth, instead of recognizing their gender identity.
- Promoting "conversion therapy": This legislation would legally protect therapists who attempt to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Nullifying local civil rights protections: These measures prevent municipalities from passing laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations such as restaurants and hotels.
Will all of these bills pass? Most likely not — state legislators often introduce proposals that never see the light of the day. But Arkansas and Kansas recently eliminated workplace-discrimination protections for LGBT people, indicating there's some interest, at least in conservative states, to limit LGBT rights.
Further reading: The new frontier in the fight over LGBT rights.