Thursday, February 23, 2012

Policy Matters Special Edition!

The LGBT community has had so much to celebrate over the past few weeks; it can be easy to feel as though our struggles are slowing down. However, we can’t ever let our guard down. As all these wonderful things happened, there are many other much less positive stories you may have missed: 

Tennessee’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Advances in House Despite Protests: Despite nationwide criticism, a controversial Tennessee bill that would restrict references to homosexuality in schools has cleared its first hurdle in the state's House of Representatives. Supporters of the bill, such as Democratic state Rep. John DeBerry, argue that the bill helps protect parents' right to educate their children about their beliefs on their own terms. [Huff Post]

Virginia Same-Sex Adoption Faces Major Hurdle: The Virginia state Senate passed legislation Thursday allowing private adoption agencies to deny placements that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs, including opposition to homosexuality. [Huff Post]

Utah Debates New Health Education Amendment: HB 363, Health Education Amendments would alter Utah law by categorically prohibiting even the mere discussion of certain topics, including homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, and contraception. [ACLU]

New Hampshire Lawmakers Consider Rolling Back Marriage Equality: As several states debate measures to legalize gay marriage, New Hampshire is considering a repeal of its same-sex marriage law. The repeal has the backing of some top leaders in the GOP-controlled Legislature. But rescinding rights is never easy, particularly in a state that takes its liberties seriously. [NPR]

Bill Angers Nebraska LGBT Rights Supporters: LGBT rights advocates are preparing to fight a bill in the 
Nebraska Legislature that would prevent cities from enforcing local rules to protect LGBT people from discrimination. Omaha Sen. Beau McCoy says his proposal would ensure that businesses are not subjected to “piecemeal regulations” by cities and counties. But opponents claim it's designed to pre-empt an Omaha anti-
discrimination measure. [Kearney Hub]

Will Anchorage Voters Grant Civil Rights Protections to LGBT Community? In Anchorage, Alaska, voters will soon be able to vote on whether or not LGBT should have civil rights. One Anchorage is working tirelessly to ensure that the majority of citizens vote “yes” on Prop 5, which protects LGBT citizens from discrimination. Most disconcerting is the fact that citizens will be able to strip rights from thousands of people, simply by filling out a ballot. No matter how much we disagree with a group of people, we should never have the power to vote their rights away.

Christie Vetoes Marriage Equality in New Jersey: In an interview airing tonight on CNN, Christie told Piers Morgan he recognizes same-sex marriage is a "very emotional and very divisive" issue, and feels that the state’s citizens should vote on the issue. But the Republican governor said his widely expected veto should have come as no surprise to anyone who knows that he is Catholic and has long opposed same-sex marriage. How unfortunate that one man’s personal morality has gravely impacted the lives of thousands in New Jersey. [USA Today]

UPDATE: There is reason to celebrate one previously negative “Policy Matters” story—in Oklahoma, legislation which sought to re-instate a statewide DADT has been taken off of the table. “We are relieved the brave men and women of the Oklahoma National Guard will not have their readiness compromised by the damage this legislation would have created.” Said Laura Belmonte, chair of Oklahoma’s The Equality Network

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