Faith Monahan ’24
State legislatures are finding themselves increasingly in battles over bills introduced by Republican lawmakers that Democrats oppose as unconstitutional, targeting rights for LGBT individuals. Bills that have passed and come into law are quickly being challenged in the courts.
Last Friday was international Transgender Day of Visibility, a day celebrating the achievements and history of transgender people. On that day, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill to protect gender-affirming healthcare in the state, labeling the state a “trans refuge” according to the legislature’s official website. The bill passed by a vote of 68-62. Republicans say that the bill would undermine parental rights.
According to the New York Times, federal Judge Thomas L. Parker in Tennessee temporarily blocked the state’s anti-drag law last Friday. The law was enacted on March 1 and was set to go into effect that day. A theater company in Memphis challenged the law earlier this week for infringing on the theater’s constitutional rights. Donald Trump had appointed Parker in 2018.
According to a PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist, 43% of Americans support bills that would prohibit gender-affirming healthcare to minors while 54% oppose. In April of 2021, the same poll found that 28% of Americans supported these bills while 65% opposed, marking a 15-point increase in support. Most bills are concentrated in the Midwest and Southern United States in majority Republican legislatures.
Last Wednesday, the Kentucky General Assembly voted to override the governor’s veto against a bill that is now set to go into law. During the vote, hundreds of protesters opposing the bill gathered in front of the Capitol to protest the bill stating that it is hateful and targets members of the LGBT community according to a local Kentucky News Station. Some protestors entered the gallery in the House of Representatives shouting down Republican lawmakers set on passing the bill. Nineteen protestors were charged for criminal trespassing. Another group of protestors in favor of the bill gathered in the rotunda of the Kentucky Capitol to express their support to “protect parental rights.” State Representative and Democrat Pamela Stevenson, who has been vocal against the bill, has launched a 2023 bid for Kentucky attorney general.
In Nebraska, State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh in the State Assembly has sworn to filibuster every bill in session to come before the legislature if Republicans decide to advance laws targeting LGBT individuals according to AP News.
The anti-lgbtq bills proposed in state legislations contain similar language, and political leaders supporting the bills have linked with organizations including the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Policy Alliance, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Principles Project, which advocates for conservative Christian ideologies according the New York Times. Alliance Defending Freedom is a organization that describes itself on its official website as a “legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, the sanctity of life, parental rights, and God’s design for marriage and family,” and provides grants and funding for legal aid. The organization worked with Mississippi lawmakers and Governor Bryant to write the Mississippi Gestational Age Act in 2018, upholding the Supreme Court ruling of Dobbs v. Jackson that overturned the precedent protecting rights to seek an abortion.