Statewide Civil Rights Laws Update
The Vermont Senate passed a bill banning gender identity discrimination on March fifteenth. It’s a preliminary vote — 26 to 0 — that the State Senate approved on Thursday. Governor Jim Douglas has indicated that he was likely to sign the bill if it reached his desk. He vetoed a similar bill last year based on wording that he considered too broad, but his concerns have been addressed in this version of the bill.
Over in New York, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which would ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in New York State, was reintroduced into that Legislature this week –the bill was introduced with a record 53 Assembly sponsors and 9 Senate sponsors.
And, over in Oregon, a bill to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the books for employment, housing, and public accommodations passed out of committee 3-1, and is now heading toward that State Senate’s floor. In 2005, a similar bill — coupled with a provision for civil unions — passed through the state senate, but died in a house committee without ever getting a hearing. With both Oregon houses now controlled by Democrats, chances are considered significant for the bill to reach actually reach the Governor’s desk.
Per the HRC, if these laws in Vermont, New York, and Oregon pass, would be the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth states with civil rights laws protecting people based on their gender identity and/or gender expression. Oregon would be the eighteenth state with civil rights laws protecting people based on sexual orientation.