It used to be that at the start of every state’s legislative session, LGBTQ organizations would prepare for an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ bills meant to roll back our civil rights. But then two things happened: Indiana and North Carolina each passed anti-LGBTQ legislation in 2015 and 2016, respectively; and the corporations punished them both by refusing to do business there, costing each state big bucks.
It was that corporate opposition that kept Texas from passing its own anti-trans bathroom bill in 2017.
According to the Associated Press, not one of 120 recently proposed bills to roll back LGBTQ civil rights has been enacted, and only two remain under serious consideration: bills in Oklahoma and Kansas that would allow religious adoption agencies to refuse children to same-sex couples.
The AP may actually be wrong in its count, though, because a similar bill passed in Texas in 2017, meaning at least one piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation has succeeded.
Conservative legislatures normally use anti-LGBTQ legislation as red meat to conservative evangelical voters. It’s a way to drain resources from progressive groups and to distract from other business and environmental legislation that might upset voters.
The failure of anti-LGBTQ legislation in state houses of Congress is good news considering that U.S. President Donald Trump has taken many anti-LGBTQ actions, including trying to reinstate a ban on transgender military members, appointing numerous anti-LGBTQ judges and an anti-LGBTQ Supreme Court Justice, rescinding Obama-era memos protecting trans students and LGBTQ employees, writing in favor of anti-gay discrimination at public businesses, starting a so-called civil rights division to ensure that medical professionals won’t have to serve LGBTQ people, failing to recognize LGBTQ Pride month and dismantling the U.S. government’s HIV advisory board.
But the big test is yet to come: the U.S. Supreme Court’s expected summertime ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case that will determine whether bakeries — and potentially other businesses as well — have the right to refuse service to gay customers.
That case will either be a bearer of bad news for LGBTQ rights or the latest swing against the dwindling power of conservatives over queer civil rights.