I thought I would list a quick roundup of anti-gay legislation which has passed or may pass in various states. Some of this is from the legislature, others might be from a citizen petition process. In the spirit of giving the bad news first, at the bottom I will list the states whose legislature or initative process defeated anti-gay legislation this year. I will also list some of the state gay organizations you can go to if you want to help out, whether through money, or volunteering, whatever you wish. If I have missed any potential laws in any states, please let me know. There are efforts to ban gay adoption and/or foster care in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, but aside from Ohio and possibly Missouri, most of those bans have achieved prominence this year (next year or 2008 may be a very different story).
*Alaska* - due to a state supreme court ruling that said Anchorage had to give domestic partner benefits to city employees, the leg is pushing through a constutitional amendment to bar the state from granting domestic partner benefits. As the eloquent speaker Rep. Bob Lynn put it: "Go get health care on your own."
*Arizona* - the legislature passed a constitutional amendment that will go before voters in November and will ban most legal contracts for gay couples. Some polls have shown opposition to the amendment, if that means anything. If you want to help out, go here.
*California* - 2 different groups planned for ballot iniatives which will ban most legal contracts for gay couples, repeal the state's domestic partnership law, and may even ban co-parent adoption. One group didn't get enough signatures in time, but the other is still going forward. If you want to help out you can go here.
*Colorado* - after some debate, notorious homophobic crusaders in the state decided to push a ballot process for an amendment that will ban gay marriage, not other benefits (we'll see if that lasts if Republicans make gains in the state this year). In a probable attempt to head off any legislation that would create domestic partnerships, Dobson has endorsed "reciprocal" benefits (similar to those passed in Hawaii about 8 years ago), very small benefits which are available to many people, to gay couples. Even this stance has led to attacks from the far right. If you want to help out, go here.
*Georgia* - the gay adoption/foster care bill seems to have been put off for this year (I think they said they were still drafting the language - maybe the Georgia GOP realized that their fanged, blood-dripping element on the far right does not appeal to the Atlanta suburbs). A bill designed to send a wrecking ball through George's gay-straight alliance is making its way through the Georgia legislature, albeit in a very watered-down form. It's always surprising to me that some Georgia Republican officials know when to put the brakes on the extremists, yet still give them some of what they want. This type of moderation game is likely to keep the Georgia GOP in power for some time unless Democrats get their act together. If you want to help, go here..
*Indiana* - legislation against most legal benefits for gay couples passed the legislature in this session and has to pass again in 2007 or 2008 to be put on the 2008 ballot. The house is narrowly controlled by Republicans - if Democrats take the house back this year, they may either block or alter the wording of the ban. If you want to help fight the ban, go here.
*Illinois* and *Iowa* - last I heard, Illinois bigots were trying to get a ballot iniative which would call for a gay benefits constitutional ban (the legislature has the power over whether or not to pass a ban - the ballot would only be a symbolic call), and Iowa's split legislature is likely to defeat a gay benefits ban this year, but that could change next year if Democrats lost their split control of the senate. If you want to help, go here and here.
*Maine* - While I don't know if there is any anti-gay legislation currently in the works in Maine, if their legislature is taken by Republicans this November, there is a chance that they may push a bill through that would make it easier for the public to get various items on the ballot (like a gay marriage ban).
*Maryland* - Much controversy in the state due to a court ruling in favor of equal marriage rights. One attempt to push an amendment through the house (the amendment would have banned pretty much all legal contracts for gays) failed, but they may try again. If you want to help, go here.
*Massachusetts* - a petition to ban gay marriage and civil unions has to pass the legislature in 2 separate legislative sessions to go to the voters in 2008. If you want to help, go here.
*Minnesota* - Republican extremists like Michelle Bachmann are pushing an amendment to ban most legal benefits for gay couples. The DFL controls the senate and they blocked the amendment in 2004 (and have continued to gain seats in the state legislature after blocking the amendment, in spite of the belief that if you are not anti-gay you lose elections). Hopefully they will do so again this year, but there is NO guarantee that they will not cave. *Please* go to here and help out. This is a CRITICAL state this year in so many elections.
*Ohio* - the far right fringe which is becoming so dominant in Ohio politics want to ban gay adoption and foster care. The bill may also bar those with gays living in their home from adopting children (a similar bill was struck down in Arkansas a few years ago). The speaker of the house in Ohio has said he will not put the bill up for a vote, but the far right may put this on the ballot - they probably can't wait to have this as a huge wedge issue for 2006 voters. If you want to help, go here..
*Pennsylvania* - the legislature will be voting on an amendment to ban most legal contracts for gay couples. This would come up for a public vote in 2008.
*South Carolina* - an amendment banning most legal contracts for gays will be on the 2006 ballot. If you want to help, go here.
*South Dakota* - a ban against gay marriage passed the legislature and will be on the ballot this year.
*Virginia* - a ban against most legal contracts for gays will be on the ballot this year. If you want to help, go here.
*Washington* - efforts are underway by Tim Eyman to repeal the state's hard-fought anti-discrimination laws for gays, and probably to ban the state from passing laws based on sexual "preference". There is also an upcoming ruling on gay marriage from the state supreme court, and that could cause a huge backlash and pass a ban on benefits for gay couples. If you want to help, go here.
*Wisconsin* - a ban on most legal contracts for gays passed the legislature and will be on the 2006 ballot. If you want to help, go here.
The good news? Well, state legislatures in West Virginia and New Hampshire recently defeated bans on benefits for gay couples. A slew of anti-gay legislation was defeated in Virginia's legislature, ranging from adding "pro marriage" license plates to cars, to banning artificial insemination for single women. And in spite of the media hype, there have not been as many legislatures as expected who have picked fights on gay issues or using gays as scapegoats. Many thought that gay adoption battles were going to be far more prevalent than they have been this year, although there is still time of course.
Anyway, I'm sorry this went on so long, but these are critical issues for the lives of millions of Americans, and their children and friends and family and partners. Please help if you can. Even writing a letter to the paper or alerting people you know in these states about how ugly these laws are might help.