2020 Legislative Session Recap

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The 2020 legislative session has come to an abrupt and unusual ending. Due to the current coronavirus crisis, many state legislatures have either suspended session or are focusing primarily on pandemic relief bills. This means that many of the bills our movement was tracking in the early parts of the year have stalled, unless legislatures return to focus on items not related to the pandemic. You can find an updated list of whether or not legislatures have adjourned (h/t to NCSL). However, just because legislators are focused on the pandemic doesn’t mean those issues don’t impact the LGBTQ community – stay tuned for a quick roundup of what LGBTQ people should be looking out for in COVID-19 relief bills. In the meantime, let’s share about the highlights and lowlights of the 2020 legislative session.

Highlights

  • Virginia’s legislative session was the brightest spot this year for LGBTQ people. They became the first state in the south to pass nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people and ban conversion therapy. In addition, they passed multiple bills that advance lived equality for LGBTQ people. Check out Equality Virginia’s run down.
  • South Dakota was able to defeat their anti-transgender medical care ban, the first one in the country to be voted down. This new trend of bills had its first major battle in the Mount Rushmore State, and the coalition on the ground that defeated it included Equality South Dakota.
  • Florida was able to once again defeat or neutralize all anti-LGBTQ bills introduced during their legislative session. This year, 8 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced, and the amazing team at Equality Florida defeated each one.

Lowlights

  • Tennessee became the first state to pass anti-LGBTQ legislation this year: SB 1304, a bill that allows public funds to go to adoption and foster care agencies that discriminate against LGBTQ people using their religious beliefs. Tennessee Equality Project led the fight against the bill, and are getting prepared for their session to potentially return on June 1st.
  • Idaho passed two anti-LGBTQ bills just as the pandemic began: HB 500 and HB 509. HB 500 is the first anti-transgender athlete bill to pass, and has been quickly challenged by the ACLU. HB 509 prevents transgender people from updating our gender markers on our birth certificates, making it even more difficult for transgender people to have correct identity documents.

Overall, this year saw a heavy focus on anti-transgender bills that explicitly targeted transgender youth. The medical care bans and athlete bans dominated much of the conversation across the country. Due to the pandemic, many of those bills have slowed or are no longer being brought up by their legislature. However, so many things are up in the air, so we can’t let up. Find your local Equality Federation member and get involved today.

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