2016 Legislative Preview: 37 Legislatures in Session, Four More Convene this Week
As we mark the fifth week of the 2016 legislative session, 37 state legislatures are currently in session. Four more begin this week: Oklahoma, Alabama, Oregon and Connecticut.
More than 115 anti-LGBT bills were introduced in 2015, many of which have been held over to 2016. This year, HRC is already tracking nearly 150 anti-LGBT bills in 30 states. This is up from 101 bills in 24 states one week ago and 64 bills at the beginning of session. The 150 bills introduced so far this year now exceeds the number of bills HRC tracked in 2015.
Here’s a snapshot of what legislation to expect from some of the state legislatures that come into session this week:
Oklahoma continues to lead the way with 26 anti-LGBT bills; the “Slate of Hate.” By comparison, in 2015 Texas had the largest volume of anti-LGBT bills with more than twenty.
Oklahoma’s anti-LGBT bills range from a proposed Joint House Resolution that would put the right to discriminate on the ballot; an extremely dangerous pro-“conversion therapy” bill; numerous pieces of legislation attempting to undermine marriage equality; proposals aimed at authorizing individuals, businesses, and taxpayer-funded agencies to cite religion as a legal reason to refuse goods or services to LGBT people; bills seeking to restrict transgender people from using facilities consistent with their gender identity; and even a bill explicitly allowing student groups to exclude some students – including those who are LGBT – without losing university recognition or funds for doing so. One outrageous bill – Senate Bill 733 – even goes so far as to invade the privacy of all Oklahomans seeking marriage licenses by requiring them to be tested for communicable and infectious diseases – and unconscionably denying them a license if the test proves positive.
Alabama lawmakers in 2015 introduced bills to authorize anti-LGBT discrimination in marriage licensing and in adoption-related services. We expect to see similar religious refusal bills introduced in 2016.
Legislative sessions will soon begin in Wyoming and New Hampshire. To learn more about what lies ahead for equality in your backyard, visit HRC’s newest resource, “Preview 2016: Pro-Equality and Anti-LGBT State and Local Legislation.”