WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the last week of January the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released the third annual “Equality from State to State: LGBT Americans and State Legislation” report, examining the slate of state legislation that affected the LGBT community in 2006. From New York to Florida to California to Washington state, Equality from State to State 2006 outlines the legislative gains and challenges LGBT Americans faced in their state capitols.
‘This past year, we saw a 42 percent increase in the number of favorable bills passed from 2005.’
— HRC’s Joe Solmonese
“State capitols continue to be the epicenters in the quest for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality and we will continue to work with our allies to support legislation that moves our goal of equality forward,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.
During the year 2006, almost 400 bills affecting the LGBT community were introduced in state legislatures, approximately the same as the previous year, with 44 becoming law. Although marriage equality dominated the public discourse about LGBT Americans, several significant non-marriage measures became law. Washington became the 17th state to pass an anti-discrimination law. The California Legislature became the first to pass a bill specifically addressing domestic violence in the LGBT community, and 15 measures extending rights to same-sex couples passed, in six states and the District of Columbia.
“This past year, we saw a 42 percent increase in the number of favorable bills passed from 2005, with California passing the most favorable bills — 10 in total,” said HRC State Legislative Director Carrie Evans.
Of the 242 favorable bills — i.e., bills intended to increase the rights of the LGBT community — that were introduced in 2006, 231 were in the areas of anti-discrimination (87), hate crimes (32), relationship recognition (83), parenting (five) and education/schools (24). Thirty-four of the favorable measures passed; 15 of these were in the area of relationship recognition.
Of the 137 unfavorable bills — i.e., bills intended to abridge the rights of the LGBT community — introduced in 2006, 73 were in the areas of anti-discrimination (20), hate crimes (one), relationship recognition (16), parenting (19) and education/schools (17). Five of these unfavorable measures unrelated to marriage passed.
• State legislatures defeating more anti-gay constitutional amendments than they passed
• Eight additional states ratifying anti-gay constitutional amendments
• Additional rights for same-sex couples in New York, Rhode Island, California, Maine, New Jersey and the District of Columbia
• Southern legislatures accounting for half of the unfavorable bills passed in 2006
• Democratic-controlled legislatures introducing more unfavorable legislation than Republican-controlled legislatures