LGBTQ Equality Maps Updates: February 2023
MAP’s Equality Maps provide a detailed snapshot of the current state of LGBTQ laws and policies in the United States. In this regularly changing landscape, these are the state and local policy updates as of February 2023.
▸▸ State Policy Updates
(The links in the policy updates below take you to relevant coverage, the Equality Map for an issue, or the Equality Profile for a state.)
- In Arizona, the newly elected Democratic governor kicked off January by issuing an executive order explicitly prohibiting discrimination against state employees based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.
Previously, there were only explicit protections for sexual orientation, though there had been a legal opinion interpreting the state’s protections to also apply to gender identity. This executive order makes those protections explicit.
- In the Virgin Islands, a state-level version of The Equality Act was signed into law. This moves the Virgin Islands from “Low” to “Fair” in our overall LGBTQ Policy Tally.
The law adds new, explicit protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity in:
— Employment nondiscrimination
— Housing nondiscrimination
— Public accommodations nondiscrimination
— Credit and lending nondiscrimination (via a new definition of public accommodations)
Identity document laws and policies
- In New York, the state Department of Health updated some of their state-issued ID policies. While nonbinary “X” markers were already available on birth certificates, they are now also available on marriage and death certificates. New York also made it easier for people to update their name or gender marker on existing marriage certificates.
Note: because the nonbinary option on a birth certificate was already available in New York, our map remains the same for this state. View the full landscape of birth certificate laws here.
- In Montana, an ongoing battle over updating gender markers on birth certificates continues.
Since at least 2017, Montana issued updated birth certificates without burdensome requirements such as court orders or proof of medical procedures.
In 2021, the Montana legislature passed a law making updating the gender marker much more difficult — but still possible — and the state was sued as a result. While this lawsuit about the 2021 legislation was underway, Montana also adopted a new administrative rule banning any changes to gender markers under any circumstances.
In January 2023, the state Supreme Court agreed that Montana should have been — and should be — issuing updates according to 2017’s inclusive rules while the legislation-related lawsuit unfolds.
However, the Supreme Court also stated that the new administrative rule is a separate legal issue that would need to be adjudicated separately. According to local reporting, ACLU of Montana has already taken steps to address this new rule in court, but “the policy is in legal limbo” for now.
>> For an outlined history, see MAP’s Citations Sheet on Identity Document Laws and Policies for Birth Certificates under Montana.
Medical care for transgender youth
- Utah became the first state to pass an anti-LGBTQ bill into law this year. The state’s ban on best practice medical care for transgender youth went into effect in January immediately upon becoming law.
This dropped Utah’s categorization on our Gender Identity Policy Tally from “Fair” to “Low.” The law also contains an alarming provision that allows people who consented to gender-affirming care as minors to later retroactively revoke their consent so that they can sue their doctors.
South Dakota is also poised to enact such a ban, but the bill is currently awaiting the governor’s signature.
- The Mississippi Senate passed HB 1125, which would ban best-practice medical care for transgender youth under 18 years old. The bill is headed to Governor Reeves’ desk this week and advocates are pushing for a veto.
- In Florida, the state’s Board of Medicine voted on February 10 to adopt a set of rules that will ban gender-affirming care for minors. But according to recent coverage, in order for the rule to go into effect, it needs to be filed for adoption, which could take at least 34 days from the initial decision earlier this month, barring any additional challenges to the rule.
Since the rule itself has not yet been filed, our map depicting bans on best practice medical care for transgender youth (shown above) remains the same for Florida — although we have added a caution icon on this map for Florida.
Additional detail about bans on medical care for transgender youth in Florida and other states is included in the citations sheet for that map.
Conversion “therapy” laws
In Wisconsin, a legislative committee blocked a ban on conversion “therapy” in the state. Background context on this decision is included below:
- In 2020, the state’s licensing board issued a rule (see item #25) banning conversion “therapy” for state licensed providers, which went into effect in December 2022. However, the Republican-controlled Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) in the legislature voted last month to suspend that rule, blocking the ban.
- In a separate action, in 2021 the state’s governor issued an executive order banning the use of state funds for conversion “therapy.” This order remains unaffected by the JCRAR vote. In other words, there is still a partial restriction on conversion “therapy” on the books in Wisconsin.
Movement Advancement Project | Conversion “Therapy” Laws
These laws prohibit licensed mental health practitioners from subjecting LGBTQ minors to harmful practices that attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
▸▸ Local Level Policy Updates
A local nondiscrimination ordinance was passed in:
- Boone, North Carolina. The ordinance covers both sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and public accommodations. It also contains a provision saying it will assist residents in filing claims of housing discrimination with the state, but not locally.
▸▸ MAP Policy Research Updates
The Movement Advancement Project recently published a report covering the unprecedented rise in attacks against LGBTQ+ people in the U.S.
Under Fire: The War on LGBTQ People in America
The first in a new report series from MAP, this policy brief outlines how, despite significant policy advances for LGBTQ equality over the last decade, LGBTQ people are facing an unprecedented firestorm of attacks on all fronts, including:
- Erasing LGBTQ people from schools and public life.
- Criminalizing and banning transition so transgender people can’t be themselves.
- Enshrining inequality.
- Erecting systemic and structural barriers to make change harder.
- Silencing supporters.
MAP’s comprehensive report connects the dots on the varied ways that LGBTQ people in America are under siege. Read the full report here.
▸▸ MAP’s LGBTQ Equality Bill Tracker
Beginning with this month’s Equality Maps Updates, MAP will offer a brief bill-tracking report on LGBTQ-related bills in state legislatures to highlight trends in across the country.
Note: these counts may differ from other organizations or public counts for a variety of reasons. Our count is greatly facilitated by the leadership and work of other organizations, including the Equality Federation and their member state groups.
As of February 22, 2023:
At least 410 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced across at least 38 states so far in 2023.
This break’s last year’s record of 315 anti-LGBTQ bills, as reported by HRC and the Equality Federation. This number will likely continue to change; for context, multiple states, including Florida, have not yet begun their legislative session. This is higher than the number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in all of 2012, 2013, and 2014 combined.