The largest LGBTQ advocacy organization in the United States, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), has issued its first-ever national state of emergency. This unprecedented declaration comes in response to the surge of anti-LGBTQ legislation being passed in statehouses across the country. During the current legislative session, over 70 bills that HRC deems anti-LGBTQ have been enacted, doubling the previous record set last year. Notably, these bills are predominantly introduced by Republican lawmakers, with more than 220 directly affecting transgender individuals out of the total of 525 bills presented.
The alarming increase in the number of bills targeting the LGBTQ community has been a persistent trend in recent years. In 2015, 115 such bills were introduced, and the figure has steadily risen since then, as highlighted by HRC. Consequently, LGBTQ families find themselves increasingly subjected to threats and discrimination, leading some to relocate to safer areas. These distressing realities are supported by survey data and firsthand accounts from concerned parents.
In response to the urgent need for assistance, the HRC has included a “know before you go” guide to help LGBTQ individuals navigate the complex web of state laws that directly impact their lives. This resource aims to provide essential information and support to those affected by the mounting challenges posed by anti-LGBTQ legislation.
Florida, Tennessee, and Texas have been singled out by HRC President Kelley Robinson as particularly hostile states. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has been accused of weaponizing his position to advance legislation negatively impacting the LGBTQ community. Robinson attributes the rise in such laws to an anti-LGBTQ+ Republican establishment, working in conjunction with well-funded extremist groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, Heritage Foundation, and the Family Policy Alliance, all intent on exerting control over the lives and families of LGBTQ individuals.
In response to the HRC’s declaration, the Alliance Defending Freedom dismissed it as slanderous, reiterating its commitment to religious liberty, parental rights, and the sanctity of life. Senior Vice President Jeremy Tedesco emphasized that their mission remains undeterred by false accusations. Meanwhile, Jeremy Redfern, a spokesperson for Governor DeSantis, dismissed the state of emergency as a mere stunt.
Promoters of the transgender bills argue that they protect children from misguided parents and doctors who support gender transition for individuals who identify with a gender different from the one assigned at birth. However, major medical associations endorse gender-affirming care as necessary and, at times, life-saving. Shockingly, 20 states have now banned gender-affirming care, and 32 states have introduced such legislation this year, according to HRC.
Amid this concerning landscape, HRC acknowledges Michigan and Minnesota for their efforts in expanding LGBTQ rights during the 2022-23 period, providing a glimmer of hope amidst the broader challenges faced by the LGBTQ community nationwide.