Legislation has been proposed in states across the country addressing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, including some proposals that critics say would legalize discrimination. Many of the proposals would protect clergy, businesses and those who decline to employ or serve people based on religious beliefs. Eleven states – Oklahoma, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, Arizona, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia and Texas – announced a lawsuit Wednesday against the Obama administration over its directive to U.S. public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. Here’s a look at legislation around the country:
Some Alabama lawmakers in the last session unsuccessfully pushed a measure to prevent the state from refusing to license child care service providers who decline services that conflict with their religious beliefs. Religious organizations contract with the state to provide some childcare services, and opponents of the proposal have argued that the bill could be used to exclude gay and lesbian couples from adopting children or being foster parents. The bills were indefinitely postponed. Another bill that also failed would have done away with marriage licenses signed by probate judges also did not win final approval. The bill was pushed after some probate judges stopped issuing marriage licenses to anyone in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively legalizing same-sex marriage.
In Alaska, during the recently ended regular session, bills barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity went nowhere, and bills to allow clergy to refuse to solemnize a marriage without being subject to criminal or civil liability failed to gain traction. Lawmakers are currently in special session. The special session agenda does not include these bills.
Arkansas lawmakers last year approved a revised version of a religious objections measure after the initial version faced widespread criticism that it was anti-LGBT. The Legislature also enacted a law aimed at preventing cities and counties from passing anti-discrimination measures that include sexual orientation or gender identity. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has recommended that schools disregard the Obama administration’s directive regarding which restrooms transgender students can use. A Republican lawmaker has said she is working on legislation for next year’s session in response to the directive.
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