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Three States Advance Civil Rights Bills; NY Senate Vote Looms... NGLTF Releases Latest State Legislative Update

Date: 
April 03, 2001

Legislative chambers in Delaware, Illinois and Maryland during the final week of March approved civil rights legislation banning sexual orientation discrimination, while New York's Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act passed a Senate committee and awaits a key vote, according to the latest Legislative Update issued by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

So far this year, NGLTF has tracked 486 bills relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and to the HIV/AIDS community in all 50 state legislatures. Of these bills, 275 are favorable and 211 are unfavorable.

Maryland is poised to become the 12th state in the United States to outlaw sexual orientation discrimination. Similar civil rights bills have cleared the House and Senate and await one more procedural vote before advancing to the desk of Gov. Parris Glendening, who has pledged his support. Other civil rights bills have passed the Illinois House and the Delaware House and are on their way to each state's Senate. Of these three states, only the Illinois bill includes gender identity as well as sexual orientation.

Other highlights included in the NGLTF Legislative Update include:

  • Connecticut and Rhode Island have held hearings on measures to legalize same-sex marriage, with Rhode Island's hearing also covering a bill to recognize same-sex unions. Civil union bills remain alive in California as well as Rhode Island.

  • So-called "Boy Scout Protection" and "Defense of Scouting" bills that would have prevented local public entities from saying no to discrimination appear stalled or dead. These anti-GLBT bills had been under consideration in Arizona, Georgia and Washington. In Arizona, a Boy Scouts bill died after a vote on the House floor. In Washington, a similar bill is stalled. And in Georgia, the Legislature has adjourned for the year.

  • Utah legislators have approved and the governor has signed an anti-GLBT bill relating to health education curriculum and prohibiting instruction in "advocacy of homosexuality." Similar bills are under consideration in Maine and Vermont.

"The results of the 2001 state legislation sessions, in total, reflect continuing progress for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people," said NGLTF Executive Director Elizabeth Toledo. "It is historic that Maryland will become the 12th state to outlaw sexual orientation discrimination. It is encouraging that three other states — Delaware, Illinois and New York — are considering taking similar steps. And it is invigorating that for the first time, multiple states are beginning to discuss and debate if and when to legalize civil unions and ultimately, same-sex marriage."

To read the full NGLTF legislative update, please visit www.ngltf.org/statelocal/leg2001.htm.

To view or download NGLTF's state issue maps, please visit www.ngltf.org/library.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.