Photo Credit: Bill Wilson
To Form a More Perfect Union...
State by State Analysis of LGBT Rights & Issues

    For our 2009 event theme, "In Order to Form a More Perfect Union...," SF Pride kept tabs on the state of LGBT rights and community issues in each of the fifty states in the Union. 

AL - AK - AZ - AR - CA - CO - CT - DC - DE - FL - GA - GU - HI - ID
- IL - IN - KS - KY - LA - MA - ME - MD - MI - MN - MO - MS - MT
NE - NV - NH - NJ - NM - NY - NC - ND - OH - OK - OR - PA - PR
RI - SC - SD - TN - TX - UT - VA - VI - VT - WA - WI - WY


  A More Perfect Union - State-by-State LGBT Rights & Issues

Alabama - 4/22/09 - An Alabama Republican state representative has drafted a resolution supporting Miss California's comments about denying equal marriage rights for the LGBT community. The bill has been supported by every member of the house Republican caucus and some Democrats. Alabama Republicans believe Miss California is being unfairly targeted for speaking out against marriage equality at the Miss USA pageant.

Alaska - 3/30/09 - Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced her pick for a new Attorney General, which has drawn ire from the LGBT community.  Several years ago, Palin's pick, Anchorage lawyer Wayne Anthony Ross, opposed an effort by other city lawyers to support an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance.  Ross responded by sending a nasty letter to the Bar Association employing words like "immoral," "degenerates," and "perversion" in reference to LGBT people.

Arizona - 4/20/09 - A gay high school student, who was originally told that he could not wear a rainbow wristband to school, is no longer being denied the right. The Peoria Unified School District rescinded the ban after the 14-year-old boy protested and the district received a letter from the ACLU.

Arkansas - 4/29/09 - An LGBT rights organization has posted on their website the names of individuals who signed and aided in an initiative banning gays from adopting children in the state of Arkansas making it on to the ballot. The backers of the anti-gay adoption and foster care petition are furious and call the move irresponsible. In total, 83,000 names and zip codes were posted.

California - 3/2/09 - The LGBT Prisoner Safety Act (AB 382) is introduced to the House Assembly.  The measure seeks to prevent violence against LGBT inmates.  A recent study by the California Department of Corrections indicates that 67 percent of LGBT inmates report being sexually assaulted by other inmates, which is fifteen times the rate at which non-LGBT inmates report the same abuse. 3/17/09 - A dramatic spike in anti-LGBT hate crimes in Santa Clara County is being attributed to the visibility given to the LGBT community in the wake of Proposition 8.  5/26/09 – The California Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold Proposition 8. Proposition 8 amended the Constitution of the State of California to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. The decision, however, protected the more than 18,000 existing same-sex marriages that took place prior to Prop 8.

Colorado - 3/2/09 - The CO State Senate backs an initial bill (SB88) that would extend same-sex benefits to state employees. Opponents of the measure have attempted to use the 2006 Colorado ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage to argue that Colorado voters are also opposed to partner benefits for same-sex couples on the state payroll. 4/23/09 – For the first time in the nation, a state hate crime statute resulted in a conviction in a transgender person's murder. A Colorado man was convicted of first-degree murder and a bias-motivated crime. He was sentenced to life in prison for killing a transgender teen he met on an online social networking site.

Connecticut - 4/2/09 Connecticut’s most prominent LGBT rights organization is disbanding. Love Makes a Family is calling it quits after a decade of advocating for the LGBT community and changing public policy. The group feels that it has achieved its core purposes and wanted to finish on a high note. The organization plans to maintain a political action committee to support various political candidates.

Delaware - 5/1/09 The Delaware Department of Transportation has apologized after distribution of a diversity newsletter that specifically spelled out specific slurs that workers should not use. Delaware’s Transportation Secretary apologized for the publication which included an epithet often directed at African-Americans and derogatory terms for homosexuals and Asians. The pamphlet also specified offensive phrases not to use with lesbian, gay and transgender co-workers.

District of Columbia (DC) - 3/17/09 - A report by the D.C. department of health shows HIV/AIDS hitting epidemic levels, with a 22% increase in HIV/AIDS diagnoses over 2006.  D.C. has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the nation at three percent. 4/7/09  - the D.C. Council votes overwhelmingly to recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other states.  4/17/09 - Gay conservatives in Washington recently launched GOProud. This Log Cabin convention has marriage equality endorsements from members of the previous Bush administration. GOProud represents gay conservatives and their allies. It is committed to a traditional conservative agenda that emphasizes issues such as limited government and individual liberty.  12/15/09 - The D.C. Council votes to approve same-sex marriage, which Mayor Adrian Fenty promises to sign, putting D.C. on course to become the sixth region in the U.S. to allow same sex marriage.  Before same-sex marriages begin, Congress will have to approve the legislation.

Florida - 3/2/09 - Lambda United, Florida Atlantic University's gay/straight alliance, held a vigil yesterday in Ft. Lauderdale to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the death of Simmie Williams Jr., a transgender teen who was found shot to death last year.  Organizers sought to highlight the lack of progress in the investigation into who shot Simmie.  3/24/08 - Preliminary election results in Gainesville's special election show the likely defeat of Amendment 1, which if passed, would have rescinded the city's anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people. 3/31/09 - Dunnellon High School junior Justin Reynolds was sent home from school for his drag activism, though no disciplinary action was taken.  School officials expressed concern over other students reactions.  Reynolds came to school dressed in drag in an effort to raise awareness about gender identity and LGBT issues and made tribute to Gwen Araujo, a transgender California teen who was brutally murdered back in 2002.

Georgia - 4/10/09 LGBT activists are at peace with the 2009 Georgia legislative session, given the political climate. Georgia Equality’s two major campaigns, a hate crimes bill and anti-bullying protections, were unable to garner committee hearings during this session. However, the group’s Executive Director is optimistic. The state’s only openly gay lawmaker, Karla Drenner, encourages the LGBT community to focus on small victories such as protecting HIV and AIDS funding from budget cuts.

Guam - 6/4/09 A same-sex union bill was recently introduced at the request of the Guam Youth Congress and supported by the legislature’s Vice-Speaker. The bill is strongly opposed by prominent Archbishop Anthony Apuron. The Archbishop insists that the Catholic Church on Guam “is opposed to any legislation, which attempts to legalize relationships between individuals of the same-sex as civil unions akin to the institution of marriage.” LGBT advocates, the Alternative Lifestyle Association, believe that it is not a religious issue but about fundamental equality.

Hawai'i - 3/2/09 - The Hawai'i Senate takes up debate today on the issue of same-sex civil unions following an approved civil unions measure from the State House.

Idaho - 3/25/09 - Two trans women in S. Idaho voice complaints about treatment at Twin Falls County Jail - both housed with men, one denied her hormone treatment.

Illinois - 5/22/09 LGBT rights group, Equality Illinois, recently reported that it fully expects the Illinois General Assembly to pass a measure allowing civil unions for same-sex couples. The bill was recently introduced by an openly gay state representative along with twelve Democratic co-sponsors. The bill would also allow legal same-sex marriages and civil unions performed outside of Illinois to be recognized.

Indiana - 5/4/09 Several recent attacks on LGBT rights in Indiana have failed. Three proposals to amend the state constitution– Senate Joint Resolution 15, House Joint Resolution 7, and House Joint Resolution 8 – have been blocked from receiving a committee hearing. This success for the LGBT community occurred in spite of aggressive efforts by Advance America, the American Family Institute of Indiana, and the Indiana Family Institute.

Iowa - 4/3/09 - In a unanimous decision, the Iowa State Supreme Court unanimously votes to strike down discrimination in the institution of civil marriage thus legalizing same-sex marriage.

Kansas - 6/5/09 The Kansas Equality Coalition is currently sponsoring a bill that would add “sexual orientation” to the Kansas anti-discrimination laws. They have hopes of introducing a new bill that also includes language about gender identity. Equality Coalition chapters across Kansas are focused on adding sexual orientation and gender identity to local anti-discrimination ordinances. Many chapters are finding the work difficult as many localities have no anti-discrimination laws at all.

Kentucky - 3/2/09 - The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the case of a Boyd County High School student who sued his school district, alleging that his school's policy requiring students to undergo anti-harassment training denied him the right to speak out against homosexuality.

Louisiana - 3/20/09 - By order of a federal judge, the state of Louisiana has been given fifteen days to list the names of two fathers on their adopted son's birth certificate.  Oren Adar and Mickey Smith took the issue to court after the Louisiana State Registrar told them that the state does not recognize adoption by unmarried couples.

Maine - 3/2/09 - Nearly 1,000 opponents of same-sex unions rallied against a bill under consideration by the State Legislature that would legalize same-sex marriage and recognize same-sex marriages from out of state. 4/22/09 - Almost 4,000 people attended a Judiciary Committee hearing on same-sex marriage in Augusta, Maine. Maine lawmakers are considering two same-sex marriage bills introduced in February that expand the state's domestic partner registry to grant gay and lesbian couples most of the rights of marriage. 5/6/09 - Maine has now become the fifth state to legally approve same-sex marriage. The Maine Senate voted 21 to 13 to approve the bill, which authorizes marriage between any two people instead of the preexisting law between one man and one woman. This development brings New England closer to same-sex marriage throughout the region.  11/3/09 - Maine voter's narrowly approve Question 1, the voters' referendum on same-sex marriage, preventing marriage equality from taking effect.

Maryland - 4/16/09 - The Maryland General Assembly has approved a measure exempting same-sex domestic partners who co-own a home from paying state inheritance tax when property changes hands. The legislation has already been approved by the state Senate and now heads to the Governor's desk.

Massachusetts - 5/20/09 Five years after the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, the National Organization for Marriage, and the Massachusetts Family Institute revealed that voters are still sharply divided about the issue. After being asked, "Do you personally favor or oppose same-sex marriage generally?" in a recent poll, 43 percent of Massachusetts voters supported same-sex marriage and 44 percent opposed it.

Michigan - 5/7/09 Despite protests, an anti-LGBT candidate for the Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) Board of Trustees was elected. Richard Ryskamp portrayed himself as the “morality” candidate. In the past he had criticized gay speakers who came to the college and railed against the “radical homosexual agenda” and “radical gay activists.”

Minnesota - 3/2/09 - Openly gay Republican State Senator Paul Koering is under fire for voting against marriage rights for same-sex couples. Ken Swacker, a legislative aide to Koering, scripted a form letter to respond to critics, arguing that same-sex marriage rights are a "pointless" issue. 3/6/09 - Minnesota state Sen. Scott Dibble is proposing one of two marriage-equality bills in the state Senate and says now is as good a time as any to propose same-sex marriage legislation because there is also an economic aspect to the debate. Legally married couples, he says, are generally in better financial shape overall.

Mississippi - 4/8/09 Pollster Nate Silver has designed a data matrix that predicts in what order gay marriage will be permitted on a state-by-state basis. Mississippi was predicted to have gay marriage in 2024. The system works by analyzing each state’s number of evangelical residents and their record of gay marriage bans. The matrix also looks at religiosity, according to a 2008 Gallup survey, to predict a time period when same-sex marriage may be legalized.

Missouri - 4/16/09 - In an effort to cope with a $15 million budget gap, the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department decided to eliminate health insurance coverage for the domestic partners of department members, a move that would save the department $421,293. 6/2/09 - Kansas City holds a rally in support of marriage equality and in protest of the California Supreme Court's decision to uphold Prop 8:

Montana - 4/17/09 The Montana Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on a case that could establish a precedent that a biological or adoptive parent cannot shut out a co-parent’s relationship with their children for simple reasons such as inconvenience. The Montana District Court ruled last fall that a lesbian co-parent was entitled to joint custody of the two children she had raised with her former partner after they split up and the case was recently appealed.

Nebraska - 4/22/09 A new program in Nebraska called Pink Triangle is trying to improve people’s attitudes towards gays and lesbians. The program recently held a gathering at the University of Nebraska to teach people about acceptance. The Pink Triangle training was designed to encourage people to become an ally of the queer community.

Nevada - 3/17/09 - Senate Bill 283 would reform the state's code regarding civil contract for domestic partnerships giving them the same rights as marriage.

New Hampshire - 3/17/09 - Four bills impacting same-sex couples up for debate this week. 3/27/09 - House lawmakers vote down a transgender rights bill that would have extended the state's anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws. 4/30/09 - New Hampshire Senate voted to approve a same-sex marriage bill that must now pass the state legislature. 6/03/09 – New Hampshire became the sixth state to allow same-sex marriage after the governor recently signed marriage equality into law. The bill survived despite an attack campaign from the National Organization for Marriage. The law will take effect next January, exactly two years after New Hampshire recognized civil unions.

New Jersey - 4/23/09 - In a recent poll from Quinnipiac University, 49% of New Jersey voters surveyed said they support marriage equality, with 43% opposed. The findings stand in contrast to a television ad campaign against marriage equality sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage, which had its strongest buy in New Jersey.

New Mexico - 3/2/09 - The NM Senate's Judiciary Committee voted 6-5 to advance the Domestic Partners Rights and Responsibilities Act, which would extend domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples.  The bill will now be considered by the full Senate.

New York - 3/25/09 - NYC changes birth certificate policy to allow lesbian moms to immediately be listed as parents rather than having to go through the lengthy and difficult process of having the non-birth mother adopt.

North Carolina - 3/23/09 - An Elon University poll finds 50.4% of North Carolinians polled are opposed or strongly opposed to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

North Dakota - 3/2/09 - The ND State Senate passed HB2278, extending the state's anti-discrimination laws to sexual orientation. Gender identity and expression, however, still remain unprotected by North Dakota state law. 4/19/09 An attempt to protect the LGBT community from discrimination recently failed in North Dakota. The North Dakota House voted down a bill 54 to 34 which would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s discrimination policy. LGBT leaders are planning protests at the state capitol in response.

Ohio - 5/1/09 - Music fans in Cincinnati are preparing to honor the late Katie Reider, a popular Ohio singer-songwriter. Reider, a lesbian pioneer, inspired many with her inclusive values. A large Tweet-Up event is being organized to celebrate her life and music.

Oklahoma - 3/17/09 - A dispute over a gay-themed project has resulted in Grandfield High School teacher Debra Taylor's forced resignation.  Taylor asserts she was fired for a school assignment dealing with The Laramie Project, a play about the death of Matthew Shepard. The Superintendent has asserted that Taylor was fired for complaining to a board member.

Oregon - 4/28/09 - The Oregon House recently passed legislation in hopes of clarifying several sections of its domestic partner law. LGBT groups had complained that in the past the wording was too confusing and ambiguous. Under the law, couples who register are guaranteed tax, hospital visitation, and health insurance rights.

Pennsylvania - 5/4/09 - Demonstrators for gay rights marched through Philadelphia with signs demanding equal marriage, workplace, and health care rights. The demonstration was billed as The National Equality Rally and included marchers with photos of individuals said to have been killed because of their sexual orientation.

Puerto Rico - 6/5/09 - Resolución 99, which would have restricted all marriage to unions between one man and one woman, did not pass. A few groups in Puerto Rico who oppose same-sex marriage rights, vow to fight and are planning on bringing the resolution back. Resolución 99 drew a lot of attention after there were large protests against it in Old San Juan.

Rhode Island - 5/11/09 The same-sex marriage movement has made little progress and perhaps even lost some ground in Rhode Island. Things have been looking bleak after a stalemate at the Statehouse, a loss in the state’s top court and continued opposition from religious leaders in the state. Many LGBT leaders believe that religion is one of the greatest road blocks to equality in Rhode Island. A larger percentage than in any other state, a Trinity College survey recently revealed that 46 percent of Rhode Islanders identify themselves as Roman Catholic.

South Carolina - 5/15/09 South Carolina lawmakers are instituting a new program trying to combat violence in teen relationships but won’t allow directors of the program to mention LGBT partnerships. State representatives voted overwhelmingly to bar any mention of LGBT relationships in the program. The representatives explained that they didn’t want schools teaching about same-sex relationships and suggested that those relationships probably don’t have high levels of abuse.

South Dakota - 4/28/09 Shannon County recently voted unanimously to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its non-discrimination policy. They have now joined many South Dakota public and private employers, including Minnehaha County, the Cities of Brookings and Lead, and the Pierre, Brookings, and Sioux Falls school districts.

Tennessee - 4/13/09 - More than 100 Tennessee public school districts could be illegally blocking students from accessing information about LGBT issues online, charges the American Civil Liberties Union. Knox County Schools and Metro Nashville Public School use web filtering software that blocks student access to the websites of many well-known national LGBT organizations, including PFLAG, GLSEN, and HRC.

Texas - 3/17/09 - Various LGBT-related bills under discussion: the prohibition of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression - HB 197; Safe Schools for All Students - HB 1323. Hospital Visitation & Medical Decision Making - HB 353.  (Thanks to K. Busey for this info!) 12/12/09 - Houston elects Annise Parker mayor in a runoff election. Parker is the first out LGBT person to be elected mayor of a major U.S. city.

Utah - 3/2/09 - Utah Senate Democrats are calling for the removal of Sen. Chris Buttars from key committee posts after Buttars compared gay activists to radical Muslims and suggested that gays represent the greatest threat to America.

Vermont - 3/17/09 - Statehouse enters second day of debate on same-sex marriage bill in the state that was first in granting same-sex civil unions. 3/31/09 - Vermont Governor Jim Douglas' office is being flooded with messages regarding his threat to veto the same-sex marriage bill.  The state Senate has approved the same-sex marriage bill while the House of Representatives is expected to vote on it Friday. 4/7/09 - Vermont's House and Senate override the Governor's veto of the same-sex marriage bill making Vermont the first state in the Union to legalize same-sex marriage through the legislature.

Virginia - 4/26/09 - LGBT history has become the focus of this year’s Hampton Roads Pride event in Virginia. The theme is "Out in the Park – Stonewall 40". This year is the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the 21st anniversary of "Out in the Park". The event plans to honor these important dates.

Virgin Islands - 6/17/09 - Leading AIDS activist have responded strongly to new data released about AIDS rates across the United States. The U.S. Virgin Islands had the second highest rate in the country with a rate of 31.4 per 100,000 people. Washington D.C. came in first with a case rate of 148.1 per 100,000 people. Some AIDS activists wish to educate people about the racial and sexual implications of these two particular areas having such high rates.

Washington - 4/15/09 - Same-sex domestic partners will have all the rights and benefits that Washington State offers married couples under a bill passed Wednesday by the state Legislature. The bill expands a 2007 domestic-partnership law by adding reference to domestic partnerships in all remaining areas of state law where marriages are mentioned.  11/3/09 - Referendum 71, the so-called "Everything but Marriage" initiative put before state voters, is projected to win with 53% of the vote.  The measure gives approval to the state legislature's domestic partnership legislation which grants registered domestic partners all the same rights under state law as married couples.  Referendum 71 is only the sixth voters' referendum to pass in Washington's history and the first state-wide voter initiative in the U.S. to expand, rather than eliminate, rights for same-sex partners.

Wisconsin - 3/2/09 - Governor Jim Doyle has proposed extending domestic partner protections to same-sex couples in the state's new budget.  Opponents have threatened to sue the state if the same-sex benefits are approved and cite the 2006 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage as the legal grounds upon which to lodge the suit.

Wyoming - 6/19/09 - Wyoming Equality is an organization that seeks to enhance the lives of LGBT people. They provide information and education to all who are impacted by sexual orientation and gender issues. The organization is planning a special event in August called Rendezvous.  It’s a five-day campout that attempts to provide an LGBT-affirming environment for all who attend.