Filed under: Transgender Rights
By Scottie Thomaston
Yesterday, EqualityOnTrial covered the LGBT anti-discrimination bill in Utah that was reportedly backed by the Mormon church. That bill died in the legislature yesterday, before it even reached the floor:
on sexual orientation and gender identity died before it even hit the Senate floor.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, announced Monday he would not bring SB 262 to the Senate floor for debate because there was not enough support in the chamber for it to be considered.
“Why, if we don’t have the votes, do we want to spend the time?” he told reporters.
SB 262, sponsored by Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, has gone the farthest in the six years non-discrimination bills have been run through the Utah State Legislature. At a news conference late Monday, the bill’s sponsors were frustrated it died so quickly.
“I’m disappointed there won’t be a roll call vote,” said Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, the only openly gay lawmaker in the legislature. “But that’s the way it goes in politics.”
The bill had passed out of the Senate committee but it appears legislators counted the votes and found there was a significant gap between the yes and no votes.
In other news, three bills affecting LGBT rights will be taken up in the judiciary committee in Nebraska on Thursday. There’s a bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, and two related to anti-gay discrimination in adoption practices. More information on those bills, including the text of the bills, is here.
On Friday, an inclusive anti-discrimination bill was introduced in the West Virginia Senate. The bill bans discrimination against LGBT people in housing, and it also bans employment discrimination. The bill will reportedly be introduced in the House of Delegates in West Virginia soon.
By Jacob Combs
New York legislators are seeking this year to pass a long-considered transgender rights bill that would add gender identity and expression to a list of protected classes for such purposes as housing and employment and would allow transgender individuals to seek hate crime prosecutions if they suffered discrimination, the AP reported this weekend.
As with New York’s passage of marriage equality in summer 2011, LGBT advocates see the state as a major potential win for transgender rights due to its large population and, of course, the importance of New York City as a media and corporate center.
From the AP:
“New Yorkers overwhelmingly support this bill,” said Vincent Paolo Villano of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington. Passage “could be another example of how the state is leading the country in achieving full LGBT equality.”
“If we get a vote, the chances are very good,” said Sen. Daniel Squadron, a Democrat representing parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan who is sponsoring the Senate bill. “People are shocked you can lose your job, or your home or be denied a place in a restaurant because of sexual identity. No one thinks that’s what New York should look like.”
The measure also has the critical support of the Independent Democratic Conference, five breakaway members who share majority control of the Senate with Republicans. Republicans haven’t yet discussed the measure, but aren’t dismissing it in this new era in which more Democratic-leaning bills get to the Senate floor even with GOP opposition.
The legislation, which has also been pushed in the past by legislators, would make New York the 17th state to put such protections into law. The District of Columbia and several cities also have laws protecting gender identity and expression.
By Jacob Combs
Civil unions legislation looks likely to have more success in Colorado this year than last, the Durango Herald reported last week, with supporters planning to introduce a bill in the legislature this Wednesday. We followed the torturous path the civil unions bill took through the Colorado General Assembly last May, when Republicans in the state House of Representatives did everything in their power to prevent the bill from coming up for a vote (which it likely would have passed), eventually killing it–and over 20 other bills–in a special legislative session.
Last year’s civil unions bill passed the Colorado Senate with support from all 20 of the chambers Democrats and three of its Republicans. Of those three, only Republican Ellen Roberts remains in the newly elected legislature, but Democrats still hold a 20-15 majority, meaning the bill is almost certain to pass again.
More importantly, the Colorado House flipped from Republican control to Democratic control in the 2012 election. In the legislative session from 2010-2012, Republicans held a razor thin 33-32 advantage; in the new legislature, Democrats have a much clearer 37-28 majority. Thirty-three representatives will need to vote for the measure to pass, and at least two House Republicans have expressed support for civil unions.