Tag Archives | legislation

Anti-Trans Bathrooms Bills in Kansas

There are two new bills pending in the Kansas legislature.

Both will ban trans students in Kansas public schools from using the bathrooms that align with their gender. Trans girls will be forced to use the boys’ bathroom. Trans boys will be forced into the girls’.

As written, these bills will provide special “accommodations” through allowing trans kids to use “alternative” facilities. The backers of this bill call this “privacy,” but the actual consequences will be to “out” and isolate trans kids who are just trying to do what we all do: Go to the bathroom. Instead, they will be subject to additional isolation, harassment, bullying, and potential injury. These bills will also apply to adult college students, no matter their age, no matter their surgical status.

You can see the bills, House Bill 2737 and Senate Bill 513 and their full history on the Kansas Legislature’s website.

SB 513 has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. Since we are getting close to the end of the regular legislative session, the Senate Education Committee can no longer meet and hold hearings.  Unless the bill is pulled from committee and assigned to a committee exempt from regular deadlines (unlikely), SB513 is dead for the year.

The House version of the bill, HB2737, is still very much alive. It was referred to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, which is one of a handful of legislative committees that can hold hearings any time the committee chair pleases. That committee is always chaired by a radical-right, anti-LGBT conservative, and this year, that chair is none other than Representative Jan Pauls, the most vocally anti-LGBT legislator in Kansas’ history.

 

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What is SJR 39 in Missouri?

SJR 39 is a bill that would add LGBT discrimination into the state constitution by way of a public vote. Missouri Senate Democrats held a record-breaking 39 hour filibuster of the anti-LGBT bill. Unfortunately, the Senate still forced a vote on the bill, and it was passed out of the Senate in a vote of 23-9.

SJR 39 attempts to add an amendment to the Missouri state constitution that would allow organizations and private businesses that provide wedding services to use religious beliefs in order to legally refuse service to same-sex couples. This includes bakeries and florists, but it could also include restaurants for your reception or dinner rehearsal or craft stores for your supplies. If passed in the House, this issue would be added immediately added to the August or November ballot, and your rights would be up for a public vote.

Currently, the Missouri Human Rights Act does not protect LGBT individuals and families. Without the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA), which we continue to work to pass, private businesses across the state already have the right to refuse services to LGBT people for any reason. However, many municipalities across Missouri do protect LGBT people. SJR 39 would make these municipalities unable to enforce their own ordinance.

This means that across the state, including in cities where nondiscrimination ordinances already exist, like Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia, Maplewood, Ferguson, Kirksville, and eight others, private businesses could use religious beliefs as a reason to refuse services to LGBT couples getting married. These could be refused to all same-sex couples, or just some couples, all at the whim of the owner.

Current laws already exempt pastors and religious organizations from nondiscrimination laws altogether. Pastors, clergy, and churches do not have to perform marriages of any kind, including for a same-sex couple.

This danger is expounded by the fact that this bill aims to add these harmful actions to our state constitution by a public vote.

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Businesses and Faith Leaders Stand Up to Proposed Missouri Bill

Businesses, faith leaders, organizations, and residents of Missouri have joined together to tell Missouri General Assembly to reject anti-LGBT legislation. The letter reads in part:

We are calling on you to reject anti-LGBT legislation, particularly SJR 39, in Missouri. Per a recent report from Visit Indy, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana cost the city 60 million dollars and up to 12 conventions. The backlash from these bills passing would make Missouri a less appealing place to work, travel, and live, potentially costing the state millions of dollars.

We are committed to diversity, inclusion, and above all the Golden Rule. These dangerous bills and potential constitutional amendments only succeed in showing people Missouri is not a welcoming state. We should focus on keeping Missouri competitive, not keep people away.

The people of Missouri deserve better than this type of legislation. They deserve to be respected as taxpaying, hardworking Missourians, nothing more, nothing less. Let’s keep hate out of the Show-Me State.

Together as small businesses, faith leaders, corporations, and nonprofits, we say #NotInMyState.

 

Thank you to PROMO and the ACLU of Missouri to organize these groups.

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MONA Passes Out of Senate Committee!

The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) is making strides in the Missouri Legislature. MONA would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Missouri’s Human Rights Statute, which currently prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations for other protected categories, including race, sex, and national origin.

The Progress & Development Committee, led by Senator Joseph Keaveny, voted to pass MONA, SB 653, out of the committee February 3rd. This is a step in the long process of completely passing MONA. Previously in 2013, the Senate has voted once in favor of passing the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act out of the full Senate Chamber.

We are thrilled that the Progress & Development Committee have helped MONA move forward in the Senate. Without MONA, thousands of Missourians are at risk of losing their jobs and not being able to provide for their families simply because they are gay or transgender. We thank the committee members for their vote and their support.

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Kansas Bill Would Send Teachers to Prison for Mentioning Sex

The door is opening in Kansas for the wholesale elimination of art, literature, and discussion containing any hint of sexual material. These things will not be banned, they will be discarded through coercion and threats.

Under a Republican bill approved by the Kansas Senate in 2015, and now under consideration by a Kansas House committee, teachers would be stripped of protections currently in place, facing fines or up to six months in prison for using materials that implicitly or explicitly mention sex acts.

A Democratic congressman asked the bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook,

whether a teacher could be prosecuted for showing an image of Michelangelo’s sculpture David, which depicts male genitalia. He quoted sexual puns in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and asked whether teaching the play could be a criminal offense.

Pilcher-Cook said that would have to be decided by individual prosecutors and juries, an ignorant statement expressing how vague and poorly-defined such a law would inevitably be (“What counts as a criminal offense? You’ll find out after you’re arrested”). It reminds one of what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said of “hardcore pornography” in 1964:

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it…

Proponents of the measure insist children must be protected from “harmful material,” defined as that with “any description, exhibition, presentation or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse.”

 

Continue reading about the bill here…

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