Policy Matters is going weekly!

With so much happening legislatively, Policy Matters will now hit your inboxes EVERY Friday, offering key links on news and events affecting the LGBTQ+ community and our families across intersectional identities where we live, work, play or visit.

Court Matters

Federal judge denies Florida’s request to do psychiatric exams of 12-year-old transgender plaintiffs. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle rejected Gov. DeSantis’s administration’s request to conduct “mental examinations” of plaintiffs in a lawsuit concerning a state rule prohibiting Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care.

Supreme Court investigation fails to find person who leaked draft opinion in Dobbs case. Eight months after Politico published the leak detailing Justice Alito’s draft opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade, the court said its investigative team “has to date been unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence.”

Federal Matters

Only late-stage HIV vaccine trial halted.The public-private partnership which included the U.S.federal government was halted when the vaccine failed efficacy testing among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender individuals in eight European nations and the Americas.

Kevin McCarthy elected Speaker of the House. McCarthy (R-CA) won the Speaker’s gavel early in the morning on January 7th after 15 ballots and several days of negotiations. This was the longest Speaker election since before the Civil War, and the first Speaker election since 1923 that was not resolved on the first ballot. 

State of the Union scheduled for February 7th. Speaker McCarthy formally invited President Biden to deliver the State of the Union Speech to Congress.

State Matters

Arkansas - Lawmakers introduce bill labeling drag venues as “adult-oriented businesses.Adult-oriented business cannot be located on public property or anywhere where a minor could view the adult-oriented business. This would prevent drag queens from performing in any public space. 

Colorado - Gov. Jared Polis inaugurated for a second term. He made history as the first openly gay person to be elected governor in the U.S. in 2018 and was re-elected comfortably in November.

Florida - Lawmakers prepare to make changes to Disney’s special tax district. This follows legislation passed last year following Disney’s criticism of Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law which would dissolve the tax district for Walt Disney World by June of 2023. 

Governor DeSantis requests data on gender-affirming care provided by Florida universities. The DeSantis administration sent a request on January 11th to 12 state universities that they disclose the number of students or individuals who received gender-affirming treatment at those universities, including surgical procedures, in the last five years. Equality Florida called the request “incredibly disturbing.”

Iowa - Lawmakers introduce anti-LGBTQ+ education bills. One such bill would force school faculty and staff to out trans students to their parents. Another would ban discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity through third grade. 

Ohio - Eight parents sue school district over LGBTQ+ policies. The group of parents in the suit wish to prevent teachers in the Hilliard City School District from discussing LGBTQ+ issues or wearing badges showing support for LGBTQ+ students, and also seek to compel school staff to out students to their parents. 

Massachusetts - Maura Healy inaugurated as one of two openly lesbian governors in the country. Governor Healy is the first woman to be elected governor in Massachusetts, and one the first two openly gay women to serve as governor in the country, along with Tina Kotek of Oregon.

Oklahoma - Bill introduced to ban gender-affirming care for trans people under 26. SB129 would ban all “gender transition procedures” for anyone under 26, with an explicit exception for intersex individuals. 

Oregon - Tina Kotek inaugurated as one of two openly lesbian governors in the US. Governor Kotek and Governor Healy of Massachusetts made history as the first two openly lesbian women to be elected governor of any state in the US. 

Texas - Dozens of anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed in new legislative session. Of the roughly three dozen bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community introduced as of January 9th, several aim to ban or limit discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools, several would ban gender-affirming care for trans youth, and others would restrict drag performances.  

Utah - Bill introduced to severely limit Utah’s conversion therapy ban. HB228 would allow therapists to engage in so-called conversion therapy as long as the “treatment” was limited to verbal or written communication. Most conversion therapy performed today is talk therapy, therefore HB228 would effectively re-legalize the practice in Utah.

Wisconsin - Legislative committee blocks conversion therapy ban. A state board overseeing licensing for mental health professionals had promulgated a rule banning conversion therapy in 2020. But a committee in the Legislature blocked the ban on January 12th, over the objections of mental health professionals and advocates for the LGBTQ+ community.

Governor Evers appoints first openly gay cabinet official. James Bond, a disabled Marine Corps veteran, will lead Wisconsin’s Department of Veterans Affairs, becoming the first openly gay person to lead a state department in Wisconsin history.

Global Matters

Germany - Government to end discrimination in blood donation. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced on January 10th that future blood donors will be assessed based on “risk behavior” rather than sexual orientation. 

India - Head of Hindu nationalist organization endorses LGBTQ+ rights. Mohan Bhagwat said in an interview earlier in January that LGBTQ+ Indians "should have their own private and social space as they are humans and have the right to live as others." This comes as India’s government, which is closely linked to Bhagwat’s organization, is set to address the question of legalizing same-sex marriage before India’s Supreme Court. 

Indonesia - Government bans sex or cohabitation outside of marriage. The new law, which passed in December and takes effect in three years, is likely to disproportionately impact LGBTQ+ people, according to human rights groups. 

Netherlands - Dutch Constitution amended to protect LGBTQ+, disability rights. The Dutch Senate gave final approval to a constitutional amendment on January 17th which adds sexual orientation and disability to its non-discrimination clause. Previously, the Constitution forbade discrimination on the basis of “religion, philosophy, political preference, race, gender, or on any other grounds." 

United Kingdom - Government blocks Scottish gender recognition bill. Scotland passed a bill which would make it easier for trans people to change their legal gender, lowering the age at which you can do so from 18 to 16 and eliminating the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The National government in London, however, blocked the bill, on the grounds that it would create two separate gender recognition programs in the UK, prompting criticism from trans rights groups and the Scottish government.  

Government announces it will introduce a bill to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ people. A 2021 bill banning conversion therapy was also introduced, but it specifically left out transgender Britons. The Government announced that the new bill will be trans inclusive. 

Church of England bishops refuse to support same-sex marriage. The bishops met on January 17th to discuss same-sex marriage and concluded that the Church’s teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman would not change.

Media Matters

Queer writers launch powerful, positive books in 2023 amid ban efforts. Stay tuned for robust offerings that follow a record-setting number of titles in 2022. 

GLAAD Media Awards announced, including the Washington and LA Blade. The prestigious award for LGBTQ+-affirming media has existed since 1990.

 A Boy’s Own Story to be adapted into a graphic novel. The classic 1982 autobiographical novel by Edmund White is now available as an illustrated work.

PFLAG National
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