New Report: Advancing LGBTQ Equality by Combatting State Interference in Local Laws

Our new report traces the local roots of measures to support LGBTQ+ equality and highlights how to combat abusive state preemption targeting these protections.
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Last year, a record number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills were advanced by state lawmakers, hundreds of which targeted transgender and non-binary individuals. Many of these anti-LGBTQ+ bills also prohibited local governments from passing LGBTQ+ rights measures at the local level through what is known as “preemption.” State preemption—when state legislation blocks or interferes with local policy or lawmaking—-is one tactic that is commonly used to block LGBTQ+ rights, especially in Southern states. Unfortunately, preemption is not a new tactic that is being used to block local social, economic, and racial justice measures. At A Better Balance, we have long observed the many ways that preemption has been used to defeat local work-family rights and progress.

Our new report, “Preempting LGBTQ+ Rights: How States Undermine Local Leadership and Innovation on LGBTQ+ Equality,” which we authored and released with our partners at Equality Federation and the Local Solutions Support Center, traces the local roots of measures to support LGBTQ+ equality in the United States and highlights the different types of abusive preemption that target localities’ authority to protect LGBTQ+ individuals. 

In recent years, there has been an increase and evolution in abusive state preemption blocking local LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections, banning gender-affirming healthcare, and targeting drag performances and LGBTQ+ curriculum in schools. As highlighted in the report, many of these attacks have been concentrated in Southern states. Yet advocates and community members in the South and across the country have demonstrated great resilience in resisting these harmful policies. This new report provides concrete recommendations for organizing and mobilizing against abusive preemption, and defending and advancing LGBTQ+ rights.

Cities and localities have historically been the birthplace of innovative, equitable, and progressive local policies, and we are working on the front lines in local communities alongside partners, advocates and elected officials across the country to use the power of the law to defend progressive local policies, from work-family policies to LGBTQ+ rights.

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