In 2016 Republican Leaders in Three States Have Rejected Anti-LGBT Discrimination

By Adam Polaski • March 30, 2016 • 10:23 am

During a legislative session in which the LGBT community has been beleaguered by discriminatory bills in states across the country, a clear shift has emerged in the way that Republican and conservative lawmakers have approached legislation involving the LGBT community. Now more than ever, Republican leaders are decisively rejecting attempts to codify discrimination against LGBT people. In the past month alone, Republicans in three states have rejected such efforts – in South Dakota, West Virginia, and Georgia. Here’s a look at each:


South Dakota: On Tuesday, March 1, in an enormous victory for the values of privacy and dignity that all Americans hold dear, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed HB1008, invasive legislation that would have irreparably harmed transgender children in the state. The bill singled out transgender students for discrimination by prohibiting them from using the restroom that matches the gender they live as everyday. Freedom for All Americans was proud to work with our state and national partners, including the ACLU of South Dakota, on the campaign to defeat HB1008. Through our States Action Team, we supported lobbyists on the ground in South Dakota, provided strategic communications guidance and digital content, and channeled thousands of messages to the governor urging him to veto. Read more about the victory in South Dakota here.

Georgia: On Monday, March 28, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced that he will veto HB 757, discriminatory legislation that proposed to allow some taxpayer-funded organizations to deny employment or services to LGBT people and others, even endangering existing local nondiscrimination ordinances across the state. Governor Deal’s veto came after an unprecedented national backlash against the bill, which drew condemnation from businesses, athletic organizations, the entertainment industry, people of faith, conservatives, legal experts and others. Read more about the Georgia victory here.

West Virginia: On Wednesday, March 3 in West Virginia, the Republican-controlled Senate overwhelmingly voted to reject HB4012, which would have codified discrimination by allowing any business or individual to cite their religious beliefs as an excuse for denying services to other West Virginians. The bill was strongly opposed by LGBT organizations (led by Fairness West Virginia), women’s groups, and by other religious minorities. Read more about this victory in West Virginia here.

It isn’t all good news, of course – just one week ago, the Republican majority and Republican governor in North Carolina ramrodded through a heinous anti-LGBT bill, House Bill 2, to endanger the lives of transgender individuals and forbid municipalities from enacting their own local protections for LGBT people. That decision has prompted immense blowback, unlike we’ve seen since Indiana enacted a dangerous RFRA in March 2015.

Conservative lawmakers are wise to thoughtfully consider and reject such shameful attacks on LGBT Americans. A supermajority of Americans – including an increasing number of Republicans – reject such attacks. Just this year a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that 53% of moderate Republicans and 64% of liberal Republicans oppose allowing businesses and others to cite religion as an excuse for discrimination against LGBT people.

Bad legislation is also still pending before leaders in Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi, and these lawmakers should look to the examples set in South Dakota, Georgia, and West Virginia to best understand that it’s time to move forward and stop pushing these divisive bills. Discrimination is not a conservative value – and it’s time to stop proposing bills that do nothing to bring people together, and only seek to divide.

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