The broader trend in recent years has been toward expanded rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, including changing legal definitions of marriage and more civil rights protections. But as a new report from the Human Rights Campaign shows, many legislative proposals are being considered at the state level that might reverse some of those recent changes.
According to HRC, more than 85 such bills have been filed in 28 states for the 2015 state legislative sessions. Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a controversial "religious freedom" law last week, while a similar bill passed the Arkansas state Senate on Friday.
The map above shows proposed legislation that relates to LGBT issues at the state level as of March 24, 2015. The most common type of legislation, marked in red, concerns so-called “religious refusals,” which allow individuals or institutions to challenge or opt out of certain state or local laws based on their religious beliefs. These laws allow business owners to, for example, refuse marriage-related services or deny adoption services to particular couples based on their religious beliefs. Critics charge that these laws make it easier for individuals and businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.
The states marked in dark blue, including Minnesota, South Dakota, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri and Texas, are considering laws that would affect transgender people, according to HRC. Most of these laws restrict access to gender-segregated facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms in public accommodations or schools, or gendered activities like school sports.
States marked in light blue – West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas -- are introducing legislation that would nullify non-discrimination protections at the city level and prevent city councils from passing new protections, according to HRC. Orange indicates states that have introduced legislation to expressly protect therapists who conduct “conversion therapy” – just Oklahoma.
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