This Week in LGBT Non-Discrimination: State Lawmakers Push Against Anti-LGBT Bills

By Adam Polaski • February 11, 2017 • 2:47 pm

A quieter week this week on LGBT non-discrimination as several states introduced proactive measures to protect LGBT people — but with a significant Friday afternoon development in Washington state, where opponents of LGBT equality finalized ballot language for an initiative that seeks to repeal some transgender protections in the state’s long-standing non-discrimination law.

Each weekend of this year’s legislative session for the next few months, Freedom for All Americans will be recapping what happened in states across the country with regard to LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination. Here’s our second 2017 entry – a look at the landscape for LGBT non-discrimination in these five states:

Georgia

Georgia State Senator Lester Jackson introduced a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill this week. The legislation would update Georgia’s weak civil rights protections to cover a variety of classes, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Georgia is long overdue for updating its existing laws. A report released by the Georgia Unites Against Discrimination coalition earlier this year laid out the legal need and economic imperative to pass a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill in the Peach State, to ensure all Georgians are uniformly and explicitly protected from discrimination.

In introducing his bill this week, Sen. Jackson noted: “All people have a right to live free of discrimination. All people should be able to earn a living, go to school or eat in a restaurant without the fear of retribution based on others’ prejudice. All Georgians will be covered and respected under SB 119.”

Washington

On Friday, opponents of Washington’s longstanding LGBT non-discrimination protections finalized language for Initiative 1552, a proposed ballot initiative that — if approved — would repeal the portions of the state’s nondiscrimination law that have protected our transgender friends, family members and neighbors for more than 10 years.

I-1552 would allow places of public accommodation—including businesses—to discriminate by prohibiting transgender people from using facilities that are consistent with who they are. It would also ban municipalities from passing their own inclusive nondiscrimination laws.

Petitioners will start collecting signatures for this discriminatory initiative immediately and have five months to collect 260,000 valid signatures. If they succeed, transgender protections in Washington will be up for a public vote this November. Learn more from Washington Won’t Discriminate. 

North Carolina

Lawmakers in North Carolina introduced bills in both chambers of the General Assembly to repeal HB 2 this week. The discriminatory measure has cost the state nearly one billion dollars in lost economic investment since it became law last March. The legislation introduced this week would fully repeal HB 2 and replace the law with comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

The economic costs of HB 2 continue to pile up. Earlier this week, news outlets reported that North Carolina is on the verge of losing all NCAA events through 2022 – at a cost of at least $250 million – because HB 2 is still law. The Tar Heel State has 133 NCAA bids out for the next six years.

Tennessee

Earlier this week, Tennessee legislators revived a bill designed to target transgender students. The dangerous legislation would prohibit transgender individuals from using the restroom that matches the identity they live as every day.  A similar bill was introduced last year, but was withdrawn after receiving intense backlash from the public.

This year’s measure is sponsored by state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, and Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon. Business, faith, education and civic leaders have already expressed dismay over the bill’s introduction.

Texas

Hot off a historic Super Bowl in Houston, the NFL is warning that discriminatory legislation under consideration in Austin – like SB 6 – could cost Texas future championship games. In a statement released to the Houston Chronicle, the NFL said that discriminatory legislative proposals factor into the decision-making around awarding future host cities:

“If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law (in Texas), that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events….The NFL embraces inclusiveness….We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events, and NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard.”

According to early estimates, last week’s Super Bowl LI brought $350 million into Houston.


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