One Year Later: 100+ Anti-LGBT Bills Defeated as FFAA Celebrates Anniversary
“More Americans than ever before understand that discrimination is still a fact of life for far too many LGBT people all across the country. At the same time, we have seen just how far some lawmakers will go to harm LGBT people,” said Matt McTighe, Freedom for All Americans executive director. “Momentum is in our side. A strong majority of Americans support comprehensive nondiscrimination protections and businesses are speaking out for equality in ever-increasing numbers. There’s also a growing awareness that nondiscrimination protections aren’t just the right thing to do – but they’re actually integral to the success of a state’s economy and competitiveness. We look forward to pushing forward with proactive bills across the country next year, and will continue working with our partners to bring full equality under the law to all LGBT Americans.”
The past few months have resulted in major victories for LGBT equality – from Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s veto of the discriminatory HB 757, to South Dakota’s Republican governor firmly rejecting anti-transgender legislation, to the Massachusetts legislature’s historic and bipartisan passage of a bill extending comprehensive nondiscrimination protections to transgender people. FFAA is proud to have worked alongside our local, state and national partners, as well as leaders from the business and faith communities, to help stave off attempts to single out LGBT Americans for discrimination while raising public awareness about the existing discrimination faced by LGBT Americans all across the country.
Coalitions drove all of this year’s major victories in states across the country, and FFAA was proud to play a role in many of these efforts. Georgia Unites’ successful work to defeat HB 757, the License to Discriminate legislation, generated national backlash from businesses, the entertainment industry, sports leagues across the country, conservatives and others. In Massachusetts, Freedom Massachusetts led the successful effort to cap a nearly decades-long push to extend comprehensive nondiscrimination protections to transgender people by engaging sports teams, major businesses and elected officials from both sides of the aisle. Freedom Indiana continued its efforts to lay the groundwork for statewide nondiscrimination protections in the wake of 2015’s damaging religious exemptions law; while in the Pacific Northwest advocates are working together through the Washington Won’t Discriminate campaign to prevent the repeal of the state’s longstanding nondiscrimination law.
Working with Business Leaders
Business support has emerged as an increasingly strong touchstone for equality in 2016. Businesses have led the response to North Carolina’s anti-transgender HB 2 law, and have played a major role in defeating discriminatory bills in other states. The Missouri Competes business coalition worked successfully to defeat SJR 39, which would have placed a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot allowing small businesses and individuals to refuse services to LGBT Missourians. In Georgia, hundreds of companies affirmed the importance of nondiscrimination protections through the Georgia Prospers coalition, and in Pennsylvania nearly 1,000 businesses have spoken out in favor of equality.
Ramping up Public Education
There were important lessons gleaned over the last year as well. The defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance in late 2015 highlighted the need for greater public education surrounding transgender Americans. Early this year, Freedom for All Americans launched its $1 million Transgender Freedom Project to amplify the stories of transgender Americans and their families; and released a Campaign-in-a-Box toolkit to spread best practices for public education and legislative campaigns. To date, FFAA has deployed nearly 100 messengers to raise awareness about LGBT Americans, with a particular focus on transgender people.
A highlight of this year’s public education efforts included a groundbreaking ad featuring Zeke Christopoulos, a transgender man in North Carolina whose life is impacted by HB 2. Nearly half a million people have seen Zeke’s story to date.
The new, interactive state legislative map is available online here. For more information on FFAA’s efforts to advance nondiscrimination protections for all LGBT Americans, visit www.freedomforallamericans.org.
Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.