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State Legislative Round-up: Discrimination and Parenting

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December 29, 2009

We’re posting a series of three posts outlining the progress made in state legislatures on LGBT issues in 2009. This first installment covers legislation around discrimination and same-sex parenting.


After 10 years of lobbying, Delaware passed a law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, public accommodations, public works contracting, housing and insurance. This makes Delaware the 21st state to ban sexual orientation discrimination. Nevada passed a law banning sexual orientation discrimination in public accommodations, adding to their existing ban on employment discrimination.

Nondiscrimination bills also passed in the Ohio House and the North Dakota and West Virginia Senates, but these bills did not make it through the other legislative bodies in these states. Bills were also considered in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

Both Gainesville, Florida, and Kalamazoo, Michigan, defeated efforts to repeal their local nondiscrimination laws at the ballot box.

Washington passed legislation that added sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under their hate crimes law. A bill that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to Michigan’s hate crimes law passed the House but was not acted on in the Senate. Additional bills that would create or expand hate crimes protections based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity were introduced in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.


Delaware passed a law recognizing de facto parent status and restoring second parent adoption, which had been available since 2001 due to a family court ruling that was overturned by the Delaware Supreme Court in February 2009. The Louisiana House passed a bill that would have required the state to only list the names of married couples or a single individual on the birth certificates of Louisiana-born children following an adoption. This bill, which was targeted at out-of-state same-sex couples who adopt children from Louisiana, died in the Senate. Bills that would have improved conditions for same-sex parents were introduced in the District of Columbia, Florida, Michigan and Utah, while bills that would have banned same-sex couples from adopting were introduced in Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

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