Defeat of Arizona marriage amendment was highlight of 2006
The Human Rights Campaign’s “2006 Equality from State to State” report shows an increase in the amount of favorable legislation passed for the LGBT community.
One of the highlights of the report is the first-ever defeat of an anti-gay-marriage state constitutional amendment by Arizona voters. The report also shows that state legislatures defeated more anti-gay constitutional amendments than they passed this year, and that additional rights for same-sex couples were approved in New York, Rhode Island, California, Maine, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
There was a 42 percent increase in the number of favorable bills passed, according to the report. The number rose from 24 in 2005 to 34 in 2006.
The report also shows there was a 47 percent increase in the number of favorable relationship-recognition measures passed, from eight in 2005 to 15 in 2006. And the number of bad marriage bills passed decreased from 10 in 2005 to five in 2006.
HRC’s State Legislative Director Carrie Evans said in a conference call with members of the gay media that 2006 was a good year for the nation’s gay citizens.
“We have many gains to celebrate an anti-discrimination law in Washington, additional rights for same-sex couples in several states and positive electoral results at the state level,” Evans said. “And we have the first voter rejection of a discriminatory constitutional amendment. In fact, we saw 242 bills introduced in the state legislatures that aimed to further the equality of LGBT Americans.”
There were 379 bills introduced in state legislatures that affected the LGBT community. A minority of 137 was unfavorable, but only 10 of those passed. Of the 242 favorable bills, 34 passed.
Washington became the 17th state to pass an anti-discrimination law, and the California Legislature became the first to pass a bill specifically addressing domestic violence in the gay community. Fifteen measures in seven states extending rights to same-sex couples passed.
But it was not all good news, Evans said. “As has been the case in our move towards equality, with every step forward there is a half-step back, such as voters in eight states amending their state constitutions and governors continuing to veto bills of importance to the LGBT community,” Evans said.
There was a 52 percent increase in the number of education bills introduced, from 27 to 41, but most of them were unfavorable. And there was an increase in the number of unfavorable parenting bills introduced, from 14 to 19.
Only one passed, and it was subsequently vetoed.
A domestic partner bill passed the Colorado Legislature, but voters rejected it. It was the first proactive domestic partnership ballot initiative.
Governors vetoed seven bills passed by legislatures, but two of those bills were unfavorable to the LGBT community.
Most of the bills in 2006 focused on marriage and same-sex couples. Seventy-five marriage-related bills were introduced in 25 states, with 85 percent of them unfavorable.
Today, there are a total of 26 states with constitutional amendments prohibiting marriage for same-sex couples.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 19, 2007