Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Human Rights Campaign Releases Comprehensive State-By-State Legislative Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Observer Update) - The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today released a comprehensive state-by-state report detailing LGBT-related legislation in 2008 and what is expected for 2009. The report shows the fight for marriage equality is expected to dominate the picture in at least four states, with two additional states working on passing broad relationship recognition; there is a growing concern that adoption bans could move ahead legislatively following the results in Arkansas in November of 2008; and at least two other states are poised to consider anti-discrimination legislation that would apply to sexual orientation and gender identity. To view the report online, visit: www.hrc.org/StateToState.

“In 2008, we witnessed bitter defeats across the country that were deeply painful but powerfully energized our community. While we continue to expect to face anti-LGBT measures, we’ll work to harness the energy and momentum to push for progress,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “There are some significant opportunities, including several states poised to take up marriage equality or relationship recognition measures, and others adding important protections covering gender identity. We look forward to working closely with state LGBT groups and allies to win these needed advancements.”

· Marriage equality: Maine, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont are expected to take up legislation. In addition, Iowa’s state Supreme Court is set to decide a case that could provide marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples in that state, and California’s state Supreme Court could rule on a case seeking to invalidate the Proposition 8 vote on the grounds that it improperly eliminated the fundamental right to marry by a simple majority vote on election day.

· Relationship recognition legislation: New Mexico and Hawaii appear ready to consider broad relationship recognition legislation, domestic partnership and civil unions, respectively. In Utah, advocates will seek action on a slate of pro-equality legislation dubbed the “Common Ground Initiative” and aimed at delivering specific protections, including domestic partner rights and anti-discrimination protections, to LGBT people and their families.

· Anti-discrimination legislation: Delaware and Ohio, are poised to consider legislation that would apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Three other states, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, may look to add prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity to existing laws already prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in those states.

· Adoption: In the wake of an anti-adoption vote on election day in Arkansas that will prohibit adoption or foster parenting by unmarried couples, there are concerns that several state legislatures may take up anti-adoption legislation this year similarly aimed at preventing gay and lesbian couples from adopting.

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