CONCORD, NH (AP) — Democratic lawmakers in more than a dozen states are following California’s lead in seeking to provide legal refuge for displaced transgender youth and their families.
The coordinated effort announced Tuesday by the LGBTQ Victory Institute and other advocates comes in response to recent moves in conservative states. In Texas, for example, Governor Gregg Abbott has ordered state agencies to consider placing transgender children in foster care, though a judge has temporarily blocked such investigations. And several states have approved measures banning gender-affirming health treatments for transgender youth.
To combat such measures, lawmakers in Minnesota and New York recently introduced safe haven legislation modeled after the bill proposed in March by Senator Scott Wiener of California. Democrats in 16 other states plan to do the same, though about half of their legislatures are out of session or not currently accepting new bills.
Wiener said he immediately began hearing from other states after introducing his bill, which would overturn any out-of-state court judgments removing children from their parents’ custody because they authorized care. gender-affirming healthcare. It would also make arrest warrants based on the alleged violation of another state’s law against receiving such care the lowest priority for California law enforcement.
“We’re tired of just playing defense against what these red states are doing,” Wiener said in an interview Monday. “We will attack, we will protect LGBQT children and their families, and we will build a rainbow wall to protect our community.”
LGBTQ lawmakers from Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, from Vermont, Washington and West Virginia are also joining the effort.
Annise Parker, president and CEO of the Victory Institute, acknowledged the legislation is likely to fail in some states, but said it’s time to oppose the onslaught of bills targeting the LGBTQ community.
“This is our opportunity to drive the conversation and the debate, and to proactively call on our allies to step in instead of being targeted,” said Parker, who served as the first openly LGBTQ mayor of a major city. American when she ruled Houston for six years.
“We would like to see these bills in states where there are more progressive legislatures,” she said. “But we also think it’s important for trans children and their families to see and hear lawmakers in our community stand up and defend them.”
Wiener said it’s despicable that a family should consider moving to a new state to protect a child, but if that happens, he hopes as many states as possible will welcome them.
“When your child is threatened with eviction from your home, families will consider many different options, and we just want to be clear that if you decide this is the option for you, we will do our best to possible to do to welcome and protect you,” he said.
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