CONCORD, New Hampshire – Democratic lawmakers in more than a dozen states are following California’s lead in seeking to offer legal refuge to displaced transgender youth and their families.
The coordinated effort announced Tuesday by the LGBTQ Victory Institute and other advocates comes in response to recent actions taken 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 passed measures banning gender-affirming health care treatments for transgender youth.
To combat such movements, lawmakers in Minnesota and New York recently introduced refugee status legislation modeled on the bill proposed in March by state Sen. Scott Wiener in 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 she immediately began hearing from other states after introducing her bill, which would reject any out-of-state court ruling that removes children from their parents’ custody because they allow gender-affirming health care. She would also make warrants based on the alleged violation of another state’s law against the receipt of such care the lowest priority for California law enforcement.
“We’re sick of playing defense against what these Republican states are doing,” Wiener said in an interview Monday. “We are going on the offensive, we are going to protect LGBQT children and their families and we are going to build a rainbow wall to protect our community.”
Also joining the effort are LGBTQ legislators in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.
Annise Parker, president and CEO of the Victory Institute, acknowledged that the legislation is likely to fail in some states, but said it was time to oppose the spate of bills targeting the LGBTQ community.
“This is our opportunity to drive conversation and debate, and to call on our allies to proactively step up rather than allow ourselves to be targeted,” said Parker, who was the first openly LGBTQ mayor. of a major American city when he led Houston for six years.
“We would love to see these bills in states where there are more progressive legislatures,” he said. “But we also think it’s important for trans kids and their families to see and hear lawmakers in our community standing up and defending them.”
Wiener said it’s despicable that a family has to consider moving to a new state to protect a child, but if that happens, she hopes as many states as possible will welcome them.
“When your child is threatened with removal from their home, families will consider many different options, and we just want to make it clear that if you decide that this is the option for you, we will do everything we can. do to welcome it and protect it,” she said.