Tallying 2013: Wins outnumber losses

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Chad Griffin of HRC. - PHOTO: Courtesy

Most advances in the LGBT civil rights movement in 2013 were on the marriage front, with victories in statehouses in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota and Rhode Island, as well as courts in New Jersey, New Mexico, Utah, Oklahoma and, most significantly, the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the annual Human Rights Campaign state-by-state report, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group tallied up the wins and the losses in 2013.

HRC counted 662 “good” LGBT-related bills introduced in 2013, with 56 of them passing — none in Wisconsin.

HRC also counted 187 “bad” LGBT-related bills introduced in 2013, with 11 passing — none in Wisconsin.

Marriage and relationships: In the win column, along with the passage of marriage equality legislation, the Nevada Legislature moved forward in an effort to repeal the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.. Also, Colorado legalized civil unions and lawmakers in Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and West Virginia kept anti-gay amendments at bay.

In the loss column, Arkansas and Oklahoma legislatures passed bills affirming anti-gay marriage amendments.

Anti-discrimination: Only Delaware lawmakers enacted anti-discrimination legislation in 2013, passing a bill banning discrimination based on gender identity. Though it was the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, Wisconsin does not ban discrimination based on gender identity.

Hate crimes: Two states — Delaware and Nevada — amended hate crimes statutes to include bias crimes based on gender identity.

Education and youth: California passed legislation guaranteeing transgender students access to programs and facilities consistent with their gender identity. New Jersey passed legislation barring mental health professionals from subjecting minors to so-called “ex-gay” therapy. 

HRC president Chad Griffin said there were great strides made in 2013, but it “is clear much work remains to be done at the state level. We’ve got to work harder than ever before, because no LGBT American should have to wait for fairness, no matter where they live.”

HRC, in its analysis, also offered an outlook for 2014. 

“Some cynics are already arguing that 2013 was an outlier — that we’ll never have another string of victories like it. They’re wrong,” Griffin said. “We’ve got unprecedented momentum at our backs.”

This year, HRC is watching for a renewed push to add gender identity to a non-discrimination law in New York and for comprehensive non-discrimination bills in Missouri, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Maryland recently passed legislation banning bias based on gender identity.

More than a dozen states may take up legislation to ban “ex-gay” therapy for kids. Also, Minnesota lawmakers continue to consider an anti-bullying bill.

HRC released its report just as national attention was focusing on Arizona, where Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed people, organizations and businesses to ignore non-discrimination laws because of their religious beliefs. Similar bills were introduced in other states. One was just signed by the governor of Mississippi.