Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Golden Age

Is the Golden Age coming to an end here in Connecticut?

Today the Connecticut General Assembly comes to order for the 2017 season and it is going to be a whole new ballgame.

We have been on a streak of passing LGBT legislation here in Connecticut, with a Democratic control House and Senate, and a governor who is totally behind LGBT rights. He forced through the legislature the gender non-discrimination legislation, and he gave his stamp of approval for the birth certificate bill.
After the passage of the gender identity/expression bill
outside of the Senate chamber
During that time the Democrats control of the legislature meant that both co-chairs on committees were Democrats but now with an 18 – 18 tie in the Senate means that for the first time in a very long time the co-chairs of the committees will be shared.

So what does that mean?

Well the co-chairs get to decide which bills will be heard in their committees. In the past the Democrats were able to shut out anti-LGBT legislation. If you look at proposed legislation there has been some very negative LGBT bills that were proposed but never saw the light of day.

Back in 2015 a Republican legislator introduced a bill to strip insurance coverage from us. The Public Health committee held a hearing on the bill but never brought it up for a committee vote. In the future that might happen, the bill might be voted on in committee.
The signing of the birth certificate legislation
So what does that mean for our bills?

Well we have a hate crime law, a non-discrimination law, a birth certificate law, so what is left? When they were passed there were some Democrats who voted against the bills but with a tie Senate there can be no Democrats that vote against the bill. And in the House the Democrats have a three vote margin, that means no more than one Democrat can vote against a bill.

So what is on our wish list?

A bill to ban Trans/Gay Panic defense in court case, “When I found out she was transgender I lost my mind in rage and killed her” that type of defense would be banned. It hasn’t been used much in Connecticut but in other states it has been used successfully and we should be pro-active to make sure it isn’t used here in Connecticut.

Another bill that we should consider is banning Conversion/Reparative Therapy. There are a number of locations here in Connecticut that practice conversion therapy where they try to make you straight. A bill to allow therapist to have their license revokes it they practice conversion therapy and people  under 18 years old is needed. A bill will allow clergy to make their members “straight” but ban therapist from doing it.

So we are now treading on new ground, where it will lead is anybody’s guess.

I wrote this last night and in today's Hartford Courant I find out that we lost another of our Champion in the Senate, Eric Coleman.
Democrats and Republicans negotiated a tentative deal Tuesday night in which Sen. Rob J. Kane, R-Watertown, and Sen. Eric Coleman, D-Bloomfield, would resign Wednesday morning in a carefully choreographed arrangement freeing each legislator to accept new jobs while maintaining the balance of power in an evenly divided Senate.
Coleman is 65, meaning the window on a potential nomination to the bench is closing. The mandatory retirement age of judges in Connecticut is 70. But if Coleman resigns, he would be giving up his seat without a guarantee of an appointment, since he would have to clear the independent selection commission.
Sen. Coleman was one of the co-chairs of the Judicial Committee and a very, very good ally of the LGBT community and he will be strongly missed.

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