6 Discriminatory LGBTQ Laws That Shockingly Still Exist In The U.S.
Despite the fact that same-sex marriage was legalized last summer and it’s, you know, 2016, there are still a shocking number of discriminatory LGBTQ laws on the books throughout the U.S. The country’s become much more inclusive for the queer community in recent years, but America certainly hasn’t passed the mark of total equality yet. Since June is designated national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, it’s the perfect time to evaluate where the nation is on LGBTQ rights (I mean, just the fact that the official name doesn’t recognize queer folks who don’t identify as lesbian, gay, or transgender, says a lot).
Just a few months ago, a North Carolina bill aimed at forcing everyone to use public bathrooms for the sex assigned to them at birth was signed into law, sparking a national discussion about transgender students’ and adults’ rights. After President Obama ordered all public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms for the gender they identify with, 11 states sued the federal government for overreaching its authority.
Although the Obama administration has been the most LGBTQ-friendly in history, it can’t counteract all the states’ laws that perpetuate inequality or the lack of local laws that would protect the LGBTQ community. Let’s take a look at some of the other ridiculously offensive statutes.
Religious Freedom Laws
Currently, 21 states have some version of a religious freedom law on the books. Disguised as protections for people to practice whatever religion they want (which is already covered by the Constitution), they allow residents of these states to discriminate against LGBTQ people in the name of religion. This often translates into Christian-run businesses refusing to serve queer individuals.
Joint Adoption Laws
LGBTQ couples can legally petition to adopt a child together in all 50 states, but Mississippi, Virginia, Michigan and North Dakota still allow state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.
Fair Housing Laws
While the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development prohibits states from asking assisted housing applicants about their sexual orientation or gender identity, most states don’t have similar bans for housing in general. A whopping 28 states don’t have any protections for LGBTQ residents trying to find housing, and two states that do (Wisconsin and New Hampshire) only prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, not gender identity. This means queer people in much of the country can easily and legally be denied an apartment or house.
“No Promo Homo” Laws
Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah all have laws that stigmatize LGBTQ students, known as “no promo homo” laws. Either prohibiting teachers from discussing queer issues at school or outright forcing them to portray LGBTQ people in a negative light, these laws give students the impression that it’s “wrong” to be anything other than straight. In Alabama, for example, the law dictates that health classes have to emphasize that “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.”
Health Professional Laws
Four states — Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Mississippi — have laws in place that allow health professionals, including physicians and therapists, to deny care to LGBTQ patients if they have religious objections. One would hope a doctor wouldn’t turn away a gay patient in a life-or-death situation, but the law wouldn’t hold them accountable if they did.
Oklahoma really took the cake for Most Outrageous Discrimination Bill by actually trying to make it illegal for local governments to pass anti-discrimination laws. Yes, you read that correctly — cities wouldn’t be allowed to tell their residents to stop discriminating against LGBTQ people. SB 1289, as it’s formally known, says municipalities can’t pass a law that goes beyond what is set by state law, and since the state doesn’t legally protect LGBTQ residents, neither can local governments. The bill hasn’t been passed yet, but could become law this year.
Obviously, the nation has a long way to go before LGBTQ Americans are treated like the equal citizens they clearly are.