Without a doubt, 2016 was unfortunately on track to be a record year for anti-LGBTQ legislation with at least 200 proposed. The majority were bathroom bills like North Carolina's controversial HB2, which prohibits transgender residents in public facilities from using the bathroom of their choice — unless they have a birth certificate to back it up. But proposals for such laws aren't isolated to North Carolina. After late December's failed repeal of North Carolina's "bathroom bill," several more anti-trans bills were introduced in early 2017. And if you hope to help better protect LGBTQ rights this year, each of them should be on your radar.
Some activists are hoping that the bad publicity that North Carolina received in the wake of HB2's passage will deter other states from following suit. The economic damage was so widespread that the GOP legislature and outgoing Republican governor nearly repealed it in a special session right before Christmas, but ultimately they couldn't come to an agreement. Groups like the ACLU have promised to fight these new developments around the country. Furthermore, business leaders and corporations have organized themselves to fight against bathroom legislation, too, creating groups like Missouri Competes to lobby against anti-trans bathroom bills. Here's where the fight against such proposals will begin in 2017.
Del. Bob Marshall filed an HB2 style "bathroom bill." Together we'll work to defeat this so VA doesn't face the same turmoil we saw in NC. pic.twitter.com/CbLaT77QRc— Equality Virginia (@EqualityVA) January 4, 2017
Anti-LGBTQ legislators in the state got right to work on discriminatory measures. House Bill 1612 was introduced on Tuesday. The bill has particularly terrible provisions for discriminating against trans people in public restrooms. It defines sex as the "condition of being male or female as shown on an individual's original birth certificate," meaning that even those who can get updated birth certificates would not be protected.
And it gets even more disturbing than that: the Washington Blade reported that it would also require public school principals to inform parents if a child "requests to be recognized or treated as the opposite sex, to use a name or pronoun inconsistent with the child’s sex, or to use a restroom or other facility designated for the opposite sex.” In other words, they'd have to out the kid — within 24 hours.
Luckily, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has promised to veto it, if it were to pass.
Texas's Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick will propose the Lone Star version of HB2 as early as Thursday. According to what Patrick told The Houston Chronicle, the bill will specifically bar trans women and trans girls from using the women's room. It will not, however, prevent trans men from using the men's room "because men can defend themselves," Patrick said.
Senate Bill 6, as the measure will be called, has a real risk of becoming law, Equality Texas' transgender programs coordinator, Lou Weaver, told Broadly.
A Kentucky legislator just filed a bathroom bill that mimics NC's HB2. And he's a Democrat: https://t.co/LPXeJRq5z2— Curtis Tate (@tatecurtis) January 4, 2017
The bill proposed in Kentucky is just as bad on paper as all the rest. It would require transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their "biological sex" in all public buildings. The worst thing, though, is who filed it: Rick Nelson, a Democratic state representative.
Nelson, a Baptist, filed House Bill 106 on the first day of session in the state, along with a so-called "religious freedom" law that would allow people to use religion as an excuse to discriminate. You hear that? Two-for-one on discrimination in the Bluegrass state.
Luckily the state's Republican governor, Matt Bevin, said he sees no need for such legislation.
This might not be the end, either. North Carolina's experience should offer a fair warning of the worst-case scenario: a divisive, expensive law that will likely be repealed or struck down. But obviously there are some politicians across the country happy to give it a go anyway.