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State Of Equality Round-Up: March 21-25, 2011

March 22, 2011 6:04 pm ET by Equality Matters staff

To check out last week's State of Equality Round-Up, click here.

CA: Legislation To Simplify Updating Birth Certificates Passes Assembly Committee

MD: Transgender Nondiscrimination Bill Advances

WA: Anti-Gay State Senator Approves Pro-Gay Bill


Thursday: Supreme Court To Reconsider Adoption Ban. The Arkansas Supreme Court heard arguments last week in a case concerning the constitutionality of a law non-married, cohabitating couples adopt or foster children. Some expect the case to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Plaintiffs include several lesbians hoping to adopt children.


Wednesday: Ninth Circuit Denies Request To Lift Stay On Same-Sex Marriages In California. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied a request to lift the stay on same-sex marriages, prohibiting same-sex couples from getting married while legal questions surrounding California's Proposition 8 are resolved. The court simply stated that it had considered "all of the facts and circumstances" surrounding the request.  

Friday: Legislation To Simplify Updating Birth Certificates Passes Assembly Committee. A bill that would streamline the process for updating transgender people's birth certificates passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee this week by a 7-5 vote. The change would align California's standards with the "standards set by the United States Department of State for gender changes on passports."

Friday: State GOP Elects First Openly Gay Board Member. The California Republican Party elected its first openly-gay board member - 50 year old Gregory Gandrud. Gandrud claims his sexual orientation was a non-issue during his campaign. 


Tuesday: Anti-Bullying Bill Passes In House. The Colorado House of Representatives voted to approve HB-1254, a bill that would strengthen anti-bullying protections and require every school district to adopt a "comprehensive, evidence-based anti-bullying policy."

Wednesday: Civil Unions Bill Wins Initial Approval In Senate. A bill that would allow same-sex couples in Colorado to enter into civil unions passed an initial vote in the Senate today. Senate passage was to be expected, as Democrats hold a 20-15 advantage. In the House, prospects are grimmer, and some worry the bill will be sent to a "kill" committee.

Thursday: Civil Unions Bill Passes Senate. A bill to legalize civil unions in the state of Colorado has passed the state Senate by a 23-12 vote. It now heads to the House, where some fear it will be scuttled in a Republican-dominated committee before coming to a final floor vote.


Monday: Judiciary Committee Debates Bill Gender Identity Protection Bill. The Connecticut Judiciary Committee held a hearing concerning a bill that would add gender identity to the state's antidiscrimination statute. A broad coalition of groups currently supports the bill's passage.


Tuesday: Lawmakers Introduce Civil Unions Bill. A bill to allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions in Delaware has been introduced in the state legislature. The bill limits civil unions to same-sex couples, and would allow same-sex marriages performed in other states to be recognized as civil unions in Delaware.


Tuesday: Senate Committee To Take Up Marriage Ban Tomorrow. The Indiana Senate Committee is expected to take up House Joint Resolution 6, which would amend the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and woman and prohibit civil unions that attempt to offer similar rights and protections as marriage.

Wednesday: Marriage Amendment Approved By Senate Judiciary Committee. The Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-3 today to pass a resolution that would pave the way for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. If the measure passes the full Senate, it will need to be approved again by the General Assembly in 2013 or 2014 before being put up for a statewide vote.


Wednesday: Gender Identity Bill Passes Through Subcommittee. A bill prohibiting discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, licensing, and commercial leasing against transgender Marylanders passed the Government Operations Subcommittee  today.  The bill will face a full committee vote sometime next week. 

Friday: Transgender Nondiscrimination Bill Advances. A bill that would prohibit housing, employment, licensing and commercial leasing discrimination against transgender Marylanders passed through the House Health and Government Operations Committee with a 15-8 vote. The bill's final vote on the House floor is expected to come before midnight on Monday, March 28.


Tuesday: House Nears Vote To Cut Domestic Partner Benefits. The Michigan House of Representatives is nearing a vote on a resolution that would slash benefits for the domestic partners of state employees. The resolution would overrule a January decision by the Michigan Civil Service Commission, and is being advanced under the guise of cost-reduction.


Thursday: Bill To Overturn Antidiscrimination Ordinance Is Sent Back To Committee. A bill to overturn a Missoula city ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation was sent back to the Senate Local Government Committee today, apparently lacking support from GOP leadership. 

New York

Tuesday: Transgender Rights Group Files Lawsuit Over Birth Certificates. The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) has filed a lawsuit against the City of New York over the practice of "requiring transgender people to undergo surgery before it will issue them birth certificates with corrected sex designations." Noah Lewis, staff attorney at TLDEF, explained the importance of allowing transgender people to change their birth certificates:

By refusing to give transgender people accurate birth certificates that reflect who they are, the city subjects transgender people to harassment and discrimination in areas like employment where ID is essential to proving eligibility to work.

Tuesday: Bloomberg Vows To Fight For Marriage Equality. NYC Mayor Bloomberg has promised to push Senate Republicans so support legalizing same-sex marriage in New York, saying "If there's a chance to pass a bill, I will do it, I'll go lobby." Activists hope he can get a few Senate Republicans to support marriage equality, as he is the Senate GOP's "largest financial benefactor."


Friday: DOMA Activists To Appear In Municipal Court Tuesday. Five GetEQUAL activists who were arrested while protesting peacefully outside of Speaker of the House John Boehner's West Chester district office will appear in Ohio Municipal Court next Tuesday to answer charges of Criminal Trespassing. The activists were protesting Boehner's decision to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.


Friday: Anti-Gay State Senator Approves Pro-Gay Bill. Washington Senator Dan Swecker, one of Washington state's most anti-gay legislators, voted to advance a bill that would allow the state recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages as domestic partnerships. The bill advanced out of the Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee and now awaits a vote on the Senate floor.

West Virginia

Tuesday: House Blocks Antidiscrimination Bill. A bill that would prohibit employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation is once again being scuttled by the West Virginia House. From the March 20 Charleston Gazette:

During the legislative session that ended earlier this month, committees in both the House and Senate never took up bills (SB226, HB2045) to add sexual orientation to the state's civil-rights laws, which now include characteristics such as race, religion and disability.

Acting Senate president and gubernatorial candidate Jeff Kessler sponsored this year's legislation, but said he did not push the bill in the Senate because the House had indicated that it would not pass it.

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