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Human Rights Campaign: more pro-LGBT bills passed in 2009 than in 2008 & 2007 combined

(WASHINGTON D.C.) The Human Rights Campaign Foundation today released a comprehensive state-by-state report detailing LGBT-related legislation in 2009. The report indicates that despite disappointments in 2009, the LGBT community, overall, experienced a "banner year" for positive legislation, in that more pro-LGBT legislation was passed in this past year than in 2007 and 2008 combined.

The report also details expectations for 2010 with the fight for marriage equality and relationship recognition now focused on Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, and Rhode Island and continued state and local efforts to protect LGBT employees.

“While the road is never easy, we look ahead to 2010 with renewed dedication in the fight for equality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We will continue to work closely with state LGBT groups and our allies to secure these much-needed advancements. As the midterm elections heat up, we must remain focused on the many state legislators who stood with us by continuing to support them and also remember those who stood in the way.”

The bills passed include:

Marriage equality: The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of marriage equality earlier this year with support from both the Iowa House and Senate for preserving the ruling. New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vermont legislatures voted in favor of same-sex marriage in 2009. In Maine, marriage equality was passed in both chambers and signed into law by the Governor, only to be lost by a small margin at the ballot. The Council of the District of Columbia voted to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages and swiftly followed with a law allowing same-sex marriage within the District which will take effect in spring 2010.

Relationship Recognition: Washington and Nevada passed laws to grant equal benefits to domestic partners in an “everything but marriage” framework. Colorado and Wisconsin passed their very first laws affording various protections to same-sex couples including estate planning, hospital visitation, and family leave, with the possibility of expanding the protection to include other benefits in the future. While the New York Senate rejected marriage equality, the highest court in New York ruled that the state can continue to recognize marriage of same-sex couples performed out of state.

Anti-discrimination legislation: In Delaware, Governor Markell signed an anti-discrimination bill into law which included sexual orientation as a protected class. Massachusetts and New York are poised to expand their current anti-discrimination policies by including protection for gender identity and gender expression. The Mormon Church gave its support to banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Salt Lake City, giving hope that a state-wide anti-discrimination bill will soon follow in Utah.

Adoption: The Council of the District of Columbia passed a law allowing domestic partners to be presumed as parents of their partner’s biological children and to be included on birth certificates. Kentucky, Tennessee and Utah legislators halted bills that would ban unmarried couples from becoming adoptive parents. In Florida, a 1977 law prohibiting “homosexual” individuals from adopting was struck down twice in one year at the trial level; the law’s future is pending appellate review.