2015’s Anti-LGBT Law Proposals Are Already Stacking Up

Feature image via Garsya/Shutterstock


Seven days. That’s how long it took a Missouri lawmaker to propose 2015’s first anti-LGBT bill.

On January 7, Missouri State Rep. Elijah Haahr introduced HB 104, lovingly titled the “Student Freedom of Association Act” in an attempt to mask its true intention: To allow student groups at public universities to deny access to LGBT students based on the group’s religious beliefs. Haahr’s bill is a response to last year’s weird panic over the pretty standard set of rules regarding student groups, which basically say that any group that wants to be recognized and receive funding or meeting space must be open to all students on campus. This new bill aims to solve that “problem” that — let’s be honest — probably doesn’t exist, by demanding religious groups get access to the same resources as all other student groups, even if they violate the conditions of receiving those resources.

“Religious freedom” seems to be discriminatory groups’ flavor-of-the-month excuse for these measures, which are popping up at both state and local levels throughout the country. Some towns are even rolling back previously approved LGBT protections, as Starkville, Mississippi, did in a closed-door meeting earlier this month.

A recently passed anti-discrimination ordinance in Plano, Texas, has inspired lawmakers in that state to take their objections to a higher level. They’ve begun organizing a measure that would prevent municipalities from formalizing any protections to a group not protected by the state government. So, unless the Texas legislature says LGBT people are a protected minority, no local government would be allowed to include them in anti-discrimination measures. The passing of that bill would settle the matter of Houston’s currently disputed ordinance, which was challenged by a petition whose suspiciously similar signatures have come under harsh scrutiny.

All of these measures are part of a statewide attempt to curtail LGBT rights through any means necessary.

Also in the Texas legislature, Rep. Cecil Bell Jr. has introduced a bill that would bar county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the event that an ongoing federal case about the state’s marriage ban rules in favor of same-sex marriage advocates.

All of these measures are part of a statewide attempt to curtail LGBT rights through any means necessary, using whatever loopholes politicians can find. Lawmakers in other states, however, are looking for blanket measures that would keep them from having to nitpick at civil liberties.

Take Virginia, for example, where last week notorious anti-gay legislator Del. Bob Marshall introduced that state’s — and possibly the nation’s — most extreme “right to discriminate” bill to date. His HB 1414 creates a “conscience clause” that bars any organization that requires a “license, registration, or certificate” — so, literally any public or private enterprise — from requiring its workers to do anything that would “violate the religious or moral conviction with respect to same-sex ‘marriage’ or homosexual behavior.” If you put aside how horrific his proposal is, Marshall’s clever phrasing is almost impressive: It’s a blatant attempt to attack the state’s LGBT population at every level, by giving any person who finds someone’s sexuality offensive the ability to simply cry “morality!” and stop doing their job without a single consequence.

That’s the hope for proponents of laws modeled on the federal “Religious Freedom and Restoration Act” that passed under President Bill Clinton but was ruled to not apply to states in 1997. Michigan’s attempt to pass an RFRA floundered in December, but there’s already talk of reviving the effort this year, and those watching anti-LGBT groups across the nation suspect that’s where their efforts will fall throughout 2015. If you’re watching the news in your state, keep an ear out for talk of “sincerely held religious beliefs” and “substantially burdened” religious exercise. If you hear those phrases flying around, it’s likely your state is considering a “religious freedom” bill targeted at protecting anti-LGBT beliefs.

If you’re watching the news in your state, keep an ear out for talk of “sincerely held religious beliefs” and “substantially burdened” religious exercise.

Lastly, because let’s not forget trans people can be targeted outright without hiding behind religious convictions, a state senator in Kentucky has proposed a bill that would give students the right to sue for $2,500 if they encounter a trans person using the “wrong” restroom, locker room or shower at school. Sen. C.B. Embry Jr.‘s “Kentucky Student Privacy Act” relies heavily on that “biological sex” idea that we know is never so cut-and-dry as the term might suggest. It’s unclear if Embry’s bill will gain the necessary support to pass, but he’s doing everything he can to frame it as an “emergency” measure, so we should at least see some result soon.

We’re only one month into 2015, but legislators across the country are making it clear that LGBT rights are on trial this year. Whether they’re claiming religious freedom or personal safety, conservatives are being ruthless in their attempts to carve out legal space for discrimination. And if we don’t call them out at every opportunity, we risk losing even the moderate rights LGBT people have secured through decades of advocacy.

Kaitlyn lives in New York, which is the simplest answer you're going to get if you ask her where she's from. She went to journalism school and is arguably making the most of her degree as a writer and copy editor. She utilizes her monthly cable bill by watching more competitive cooking shows than should be allowed.

Kaitlyn has written 69 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. Hey all you conservative Christian lawmakers talking about the desecration of religion—I’m a Christian too, and last I checked the Bible had a lot more to say about not being a discriminatory asshole to your fellow humans than it did about the gender(s) of the people you have sex with. Also, “Thou shalt not be a homosexual” and “Thou shalt be denied the right to be accepted for the gender you identify as” are not part of the Ten Commandments, whereas “Thou shalt not kill” is. And yet you seem to have no qualms denying the freedom of life to entire groups of people.

  2. A correction on the Kentucky anti-trans bill: it’s not up to 2500 dollars; it’s at least. It’s the 2500 + legal fees + compensation “for all psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered”.

    Of course, that’s still less than the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights monetary forfeiture for not allowing trans students to use gender-appropriate bathrooms.

    • Hey Max! Can you tell me where you found that it can be more than $2,500? I realize I left a link out when I originally posted (that’s been fixed) but the source I referred to only said students were entitled to $2,500 (so not even “up to” as I’d originally stated). I’d love to hear more about the compensation if you can point me in the right direction!

  3. So, are they also going to enact laws that relating to stopping divorce, since you know the bible says something to the effect that is wrong too. Also, if I remember correctly somewhere in the Old Testament it states thinking about a woman you like is a sin, being aroused is a sin too, as is being aroused, and touching your genitals when using the bathroom. So, maybe we should be also targeting divorce, and people who think about the person they like since those are also considered as sins in the bible?

    • Oh cher that’s more or less the Handmaid’s Tale.
      One of the few book where merely the Cliff Notes version made me feel claustrophobic.
      “I’d rather be dead than live in the Republic Gilead”

  4. I really do not understand why, if we truly have religious freedom and our country was founded on the idea of SEPARATION of church and state, Christians can just pass a bunch of laws allowing them to actively discriminate against minorities under the guise of “protecting religious freedom”.
    Like, first of all, Freedom of Religion ALREADY DOES THAT, so these added laws are just redundant in that area.
    And second of all, LITERALLY NO ONE IS DISCRIMINATING AGAINST YOU STRAIGHT WHITE CHRISTIAN POLITICIANS. No one. No one is going to tell you that you can’t wear a cross necklace at work because it’s potentially offensive (to Christians). The entire country takes your holidays off. There are literally thousands of charities and scholarships and aid programs for Christians only. You have your own private schools and universities. You get away with making laws based on your religious views even though they’re actually harmful for your constituents. You have your own political party, and it’s one of the 2 major parties. Christian is considered the norm. YOU. DON’T. NEED. RELIGIOUS. PROTECTION.
    it’s freaking disgusting that Christians are allowed to blatantly discriminate in the name of “protecting” their already over protected extremist religion.

    • OMG we think so alike!!!! And I’m Christian! You’re exactly correct. See, what is happening is an invasion of public civil laws in the “name of religion”. They wouldn’t allow this for Muslim-type laws but they will for Christian laws. What? Christians being hypocrites? Yep.

      See over here you have the state house (legislature). Over there is the church house. Can you imagine the outcry if the state house went into the church house and began writing their laws? Now imagine the church house writing laws for everybody else? No imagining necessary; this is precisely what is going on. There IS supposed to be a separation but “in the name of religion”, these extremists force their way in the state house and impose their will. The clearest example is when parental mutinies impact public school boards such that they withdraw LGBT protections, despite LGBT children being highly bullied.

  5. The urge to convert to Satanism just for the trolling purposes is firing up within me once more but emotionally I moved past Abrahamic mythology, past the good vs evil dichotomy of it at 16 and the need to inflict distress upon others for my own enjoyment.
    What’s slightly unhinged still a bit mischievous gal to do?

  6. It’s easy to organize people around fear and hate, and yet across the country people have turned around to support the LGBTQ community. I think the narrative of equal love has a lot to do with that success.

    Against anti-discrimination in other areas, though, the narrative is more along the lines of equal rights, and I think that’s a weakness. Equal rights is a great concept, but for those who believe everyone has an equal right to discriminate, it has no impact.

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