LGBTQIA Legislative News Roundup

By Jeremy Selvidge

A new California law that went into effect on January 1 prohibits state agencies from requiring travel to states that have enacted anti-LGBT legislation. The measure, introduced last year by Assembly member Evan Low, passed last fall. Under the new law, non-essential taxpayer-funded travel to four states—Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kansas—is restricted.

The Tennessee state senate is considering a bill that would change the rules governing counselors and therapists in the state. Under a state law enacted in 2016, counselors in Tennessee can refuse to provide services if the goals or outcomes of that service conflict with the “sincerely held principles” of the counselor. The new measure would amend the law, replacing “principles” with “beliefs” and prohibiting the adoption of rules referencing the code of ethics of any national association, including the American Counseling Association. Many opponents of the 2016 law also oppose the proposed legislation, claiming it will further allow discrimination against LGBT individuals, among others.

Equality Utah filed a motion in federal court last week requesting an injunction against a state law that prohibits “discussion of anything that could be construed as ‘advocacy’ of homosexuality.” This injunction request is part of an ongoing lawsuit by Equality Utah against the state’s Board of Education over the law.

The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case to decide whether spousal benefits for the married partners of Houston city employees should extend to same-sex couples. The city of Houston currently extends spousal benefits to gay and lesbian couples, but a lawsuit has been filed against Houston’s mayor to challenge those benefits, with petitioners asserting there is no “fundamental right” to spousal benefits protected by the Constitution. The Texas Supreme Court originally passed on the case in 2016 but ultimately accepted the case after pressure from state GOP leaders, including the governor.

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