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Iowa and Arkansas Hop on the Extremist GOP Bandwagon to Criminalize Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Kids

Republican legislators claim they’re protecting children. Meanwhile, they’re also passing bills to loosen child labor laws.

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Iowa and Arkansas are the latest red states to pass bills cracking down on gender-affirming care for minors. Both bills are expected to become law.

The Iowa House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would prohibit doctors from giving puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or gender-affirming surgeries to people under age 18. Five Republican lawmakers broke ranks to vote against the bill with Democrats. The measure had passed the Senate along party lines the night before. It now moves to Republican Governor Kim Reynolds, who is expected to sign it into law.

In Arkansas, the House passed a medical malpractice bill that would make it easier for people to sue doctors who give gender-affirming care to minors. Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said she supports the measure.

The bills are part of a much larger wave of state-level legislation targeting LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people. Also in Iowa this week, the Senate passed a bill that would prohibit transgender kids from using the school bathroom that does not match their sex at birth; and the state House passed a bill Wednesday that bans teaching kids about gender identity or sexual orientation until sixth grade.

The most common argument from lawmakers who support such bills is that they are looking out for the best interests of children. “Children should not be pushed to receive experimental medical treatments that can leave them permanently sterile and physically marred for life,” Iowa Senator Jeff Edler said when debating the gender-affirming care bill, citing false information.

“The governor has said that she supports bills that protect our kids and will support legislation like this that does just that,” a spokeswoman for Sanders told the Associated Press. “Only in the far-left’s woke vision of America is it not appropriate to protect children.”

Both states have also introduced legislation easing child labor protection laws. On Tuesday, Sanders signed a law rolling back her state’s only oversight mechanism for child labor. In Iowa, Republicans unveiled a bill in February that would allow teenagers to work in previously prohibited jobs, such as in slaughterhouses or meatpacking plants, or operating heavy machinery.

While that proposed law could endanger teenagers, gender-affirming care can be lifesaving for LGBTQ minors. A study published in January in the New England Journal of Medicine found that trans and nonbinary teens who receive gender-affirming care have significantly less depression and anxiety than before treatment.

The Human Rights Campaign and ACLU urged the states’ governors not to sign the bills. Iowa’s “heartless legislation puts craven politics ahead of the health and safety of young people, and should strike fear in the hearts of parents” throughout the state, said Cathryn Oakley, the HRC’s state legislative director.

The ACLU also slammed the Arkansas state legislature. “By choosing to ignore the voices of those who are most directly impacted by this legislation, Arkansas politicians are sending a clear message that they value political posturing over the health and wellbeing of their constituents,” the group said.

A List of Every Senate Democrat Who Voted With Republicans to Overrule D.C.’s Criminal Reforms

Thirty-one Democrats (and two independents who caucus with the Democrats) joined Republicans in subverting the will of the District’s voters.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Thanks for nothing, Jon Ossoff

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 81–14 to overturn the District of Columbia’s criminal codes, subverting many months of work that residents and officials invested to update laws that haven’t been dusted off in over 100 years.

It was all part of a right-wing charade against D.C.’s autonomy and fearmongering against even modest criminal justice reform. One D.C. resident described it as a “slap in the face.” Here’s every Senate Democrat and independent who joined Republicans in that slap:

  • Tammy Baldwin
  • Michael Bennet
  • Richard Blumenthal
  • Sherrod Brown
  • Maria Cantwell
  • Bob Casey Jr.
  • Chris Coons
  • Catherine Cortez Masto
  • Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Maggie Hassan
  • Martin Heinrich
  • John Hickenlooper
  • Tim Kaine
  • Mark Kelly
  • Angus King
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Ben Ray Luján
  • Joe Manchin
  • Bob Menendez
  • Patty Murray
  • Jon Ossoff
  • Alex Padilla
  • Gary Peters
  • Jacky Rosen
  • Brian Schatz
  • Chuck Schumer
  • Jeanne Shaheen
  • Kyrsten Sinema
  • Tina Smith
  • Debbie Stabenow
  • Jon Tester
  • Mark Warner
  • Ron Wyden

Thirteen Democrats plus Bernie Sanders voted “nay.” Raphael Warnock voted “present,” while Senators Tom Carper, Dianne Feinstein, and John Fetterman did not vote.

Congrats to Joe Biden and the Democrats for Helping Republicans Kill D.C.’s Crime Law

The Senate voted to repeal the D.C. law, as Democrats caved to a dishonest fearmongering campaign led by conservatives.

Joe Biden
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 81–14 to overturn D.C.’s criminal code reforms, subverting months of work that residents and officials invested to update codes that haven’t been dusted off in over 100 years.

The vote signals the official death of D.C.’s proposed criminal code updates. Local officials will have to continue using archaic codes until the D.C. City Council can pass new ones that again have to be approved by the federal government.

The House voted last month to block both the updated criminal codes and another bill that would have extended voting rights to noncitizens in D.C. (An estimated 7 percent of D.C. residents are noncitizens of some form.) It did so with the help of 31 Democrats, including Elissa Slotkin, the party’s heir-apparent Senate candidate in Michigan, and lone anti-abortion Democrat Henry Cuellar.

Inspired by the moderate wing of his party, President Joe Biden announced last week his own support for joining the right-wing campaign against D.C.’s duly owed autonomy. Though Biden called “denial of self-governance” in Washington, D.C., “an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded,” in April 2021, he announced last week that “if the Senate votes to overturn what D.C. Council did–I’ll sign it.”

He cited only one specific change, “lowering penalties for carjackings,” as a cause for concern. In reality, the bill updated an obsolete and unusual 40-year maximum sentence for carjacking to a more realistic 24-year maximum (still higher than most actual sentences).

With the Senate now joining the House in the rejection, and Biden presumably set to finish the task, the rule of a government overseeing 700,000 residents has been wholly subverted by the federal government. Not only is this a complete federal takeover of local government rule (one that seldom happens in any other community in America), but it also was one spurred forward by a dishonest fearmongering campaign propelled by conservatives.

The bill was approved unanimously by the D.C. City Council. It then voted 12–1 to override Mayor Muriel Bowser’s veto of it (she had said she approved 95 percent of the bill anyhow). And the reforms did not haphazardly reduce criminal sentences. The council tasked with updating the code (staffed by legal experts, including representatives from the D.C. attorney general’s and U.S. attorney’s offices) used data from a decade’s worth of cases to align the code with the kinds of penalties judges were already sentencing people to.

The bill also updated the court’s ability to stack offenses like building blocks. Though maximum sentences for various stand-alone offenses might’ve gone down (often because the existing ones were outdatedly high), the new codes defined many more offenses, and degrees of them, enabling courts to put together more proportional and logical sentences. For instance, in cases related to carjackings that also have a violent component, court sentences would more accurately reflect each characteristic of the crime.

The D.C. City Council was simply dusting off old codes and making them more efficient for courts. The updates didn’t even embody the larger shift of resources from overpolicing to community investment actually needed to start making the public safer. But moderate Democrats joined the right-wing charade anyway. Predictably, Democrats are getting no reward from Republicans for playing along; in her remarks today advocating to overturn D.C.’s reforms, Senator Joni Ernst displayed a sign that read “Life in Biden’s America,” depicting a crime scene with a chalk outline, yellow tape and all. Moderate Democrats, led by Biden, betrayed their supposed principles just to embarrassingly lose the politics of it all too.

Ohio Senate Passes Bill Loosening Child Labor Protections

The bill is likely to become law, as Republicans control the Ohio Senate, House, and governorship.

Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The Ohio Senate passed a bill Wednesday loosening labor protections for minors, a measure that is likely to become law as Republicans also control the state House and governor’s office.

The bill, which passed 25-7 along party lines, would allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work until 9:00 pm any time of the year if they have permission from their legal guardian. Current law prohibits kids under the age of 16 from working between those hours during the school year.

The bill would still limit kids under age 16 from working more than three hours a day on a school day and for more than 18 hours a week during the school year.

Republican backers of the bill argued that the measure would help tackle the workforce shortage seen as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as teach teenagers work ethic.

But Democrats argued that letting kids work wouldn’t address the root of the problem. Senator Kent Smith noted that two million people retired due to the pandemic and have not rejoined the workforce.

Instead, he said, lawmakers should focus on addressing the shortage of child care workers. More than half of the country without access to child care after child care workers quit en masse during the pandemic, according to the Center for American Progress.

“Twenty percent of stay-at-home mothers would enter the workforce if they had child care assistance,” Smith said. “That’s where we need to be targeting our workforce shortage.”

Ohio’s bill comes at a time when U.S. labor protections for minors are at a high-stakes crossroads. On Tuesday night, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a measure that rolls back child labor protections. The new law eliminates one of the state’s only means of oversight for child labor.

Sanders’s easing of child work protections also comes shortly after states including Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New Hampshire introduced bills that would roll back child labor protections.

But all of these measures have come alongside a shocking New York Times investigation into a “shadow work force” of migrant children “across industries in every state,” working dangerous jobs that violate existing child labor protections.

The report has outraged labor activists and lawmakers, but apparently that hasn’t stopped state-level politicians from making it easier for children to end up in those roles.

Republican Congressman Mike Collins Blames Diversity for Norfolk Southern Train Derailments

The representative from Georgia believes diversity, equity, and inclusion is the real reason for the train derailments.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Republican Representative Mike Collins of Georgia’s 10th congressional district found the real reason for the disastrous train derailments happening across the country. It’s not the massive railroad companies throwing hundreds of millions into lobbying politicians, presidents who deregulated the railroad industry, or politicians who imposed corporate friendly contracts on already overworked rail workers. No, Collins suspects the real culprit is diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“After seeing another Norfolk Southern train derailed this weekend, I was reminded of the fact that the company wrote to shareholders stating that it is focused on DEI,” Collins said on the House floor. “This administration’s focus on DEI is forcing private companies to rethink their goals and one has to wonder, was Norfolk Southern’s DEI policies directing resources away from the important things like greasing wheel bearings? Now this insanity must stop.”

Using his precious taxpayer-funded time on the floor of the nation’s Capitol to spew nonsense, Collins seemed, like most conservatives, completely unconcerned with how things actually go wrong in the railroad industry. This is not revelatory, particularly given this outcome is exactly what conservative governance aims for: corporate friendly deregulation that prioritizes profits over the actual welfare or material outcomes for impacted people (workers, residents suffering from derailments, all taxpayers whose money funds a government that allows it all to keep happening).

But it’s worth taking a closer look at Collins’s personal record.

A freshman Republican in Congress, Collins has studiously avoided any mention of the influence of corporations in politics when he talks about the rail industry. Perhaps because of his own history. About 72 percent of his 2022 campaign fundraising came from large individual contributions and 12 percent from PAC contributions. He also pulled $531,000 from his own wallet, after he had received a now-forgiven PPP loan of $920,000.

Collins also wrote a Fox op-ed last month blaming “wokeness” at the Department of Transportation for its response to the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. While there are some legitimate concerns with the department’s response, wokeness isn’t one of them. In the op-ed, Collins lauded the “private sector” for its ability to “solve challenges,” ignoring that if there are over 1,000 train derailments every year, the private sector doesn’t really do this.

Collins leaned on his experience running a trucking company for over 30 years to preach about the private sector’s primacy anyhow. A review of Department of Transportation records showed that nearly 30 percent of Collins’s company trucks inspected in the last two years were deemed to be “out of service” and not authorized to operate. That’s higher than an already high national average of 22.1 percent.

In noninfrastructure news, Collins also recently hired veteran Republican operative and serial criminal Brandon Phillips to be his chief of staff.

Phillips was arrested in November 2022 for kicking a dog with his boot, cutting the animal’s stomach. He received one misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty and was held on a $1,200 bond, which he posted to get released.

In 2016, Phillips resigned from the Trump campaign after more parts of his history were revealed. In 2008, Phillips attacked a man, slashed his tires, and threw a woman’s laptop.

Phillips was said to have caused “visible bodily harm” and “cuts and bruises to the head and torso” of the male victim. He was arrested on charges of battery and felony criminal damage; before going to trial, Phillips pleaded guilty to lesser charges of criminal trespassing and battery. He was sentenced to three years of probation, 50 hours of community service, and a $1,567 fine, but Phillips got off with a year of probation after early release. That same year, Phillips allegedly pointed a gun at a woman. He was arrested on one charge of simple assault and battery, but the charges were dropped after Phillips completed pre-trial counseling.

Amid Tucker Carlson’s campaign to whitewash the violent January 6 riots, Collins, who seems to be a benefactor of lenience from the criminal justice system, has also demanded the release of January 6 attackers.

One could suggest Collins stay in his lane—whether it be trucking, or getting elected off of tons of corporate cash—but it seems like he ought not to be trusted in those ones either.

Eleanor Holmes Norton Has Some Words for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party on D.C.’s Crime Bill

The Washington, D.C., delegate to Congress has had enough.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for SEIU

Washington, D.C., Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton had some choice words for Joe Biden and her fellow Democrats Wednesday, hours before the Senate was set to vote on a motion to block changes to the city’s criminal code.

Republicans have led a successful fearmongering campaign against the overhaul of D.C.’s criminal code, which would provide badly needed updates to local legislation. Many Democrats have said they will vote alongside Republicans, and Biden said he won’t veto their efforts, denying the national capital the right to self-governance.

“Shame on him!” Norton said of Biden at a protest against the Republican disapproval resolution. “You either support D.C. home rule or you don’t. There are no exceptions, and there is no middle ground.”

About 200 people braved the cold to gather outside Union Station, just blocks away from the Capitol building. They beat bucket drums and danced to gogo music, both classic and historic D.C. sounds.

“What is happening in Congress is undemocratic,” Norton charged. “None of the 435 voting members of Congress were elected by D.C. residents; none of them are accountable to D.C. residents. Yet if they vote in favor of the disapproval resolution … they will choose to govern D.C. without its consent.”

She also warned that if the bill passes and Biden signs it, the win could “embolden Republicans to interfere in D.C.’s local affairs.”

“Just let ’em try!” she challenged.

Nearly 700,000 people live in the nation’s capital, most of them Black or brown. They do not have a voting member of Congress, and the federal government has the right to override policy decisions made by the D.C. City Council. If the disapproval measure passes, it will be the first time Congress has used that right in 30 years.

Tori Otten/The New Republic

Biden has come under particular fire because he has been a vocal supporter of D.C.’s right to self-governance in the past. His announcement last week that he would not veto the disapproval measure if it came to his desk was seen as a massive betrayal.

Other protesters were equally frustrated with Biden and Congress. “Our autonomy is under attack,” Fari Gahmina Tumpe, 58, a community organizer, told The New Republic. “Not only do we deserve the right to have a voting seat at the table, but we also deserve the right to make our own laws and govern ourselves.”

Kesh Ladduwahetty, 59, a graphic designer, told TNR she was “just so angry.”

“I’m angry because our country talks so big about democracy,” Ladduwahetty, who has worked with states advocating for D.C. statehood for a decade, said. “This was a reasonable … law that we passed. It was a thoughtfully done thing, and it was done democratically. And now it’s being stamped on for purely political reasons.”

“We thought we were making such progress, and this has been such a slap in the face.”

Fox News Admitted It Entered an “Existential Crisis” After Trump Lost the 2020 Election

New documents in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit shed further light on what Fox News hosts and executives were really thinking as they spread conspiracy theories.

A billboard truck with Tucker Carlson's head and a quote that reads "What [Trump's] good at is destroying things. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong." Nov. 5, 2020
Erik McGregor/LightRocket/Getty Images
A billboard truck seen outside Fox News HQ

Fox News hosts and executives never believed the conspiracy theories about the 2020 election that they were spreading, new documents released in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against the network revealed.

But as one Fox executive put it, the network entered an “existential crisis” after Donald Trump’s loss.

Dominion sued Fox News Networks and parent company Fox Corp in 2021 for $1.6 billion, accusing the television network of spreading lies that Dominion machines were used to rig the 2020 election against Trump.

Dominion released another batch of documents Tuesday night that gave further proof to the fact that Fox News hosts and owner Rupert Murdoch all knew the election wasn’t fraudulent, even as they continued to spread conspiracies on air.

Just two days before January 6, Fox host Tucker Carlson texted someone about Trump’s time in office. “We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest,” he said. “But come on. There really isn’t an upside to Trump.”

“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait,” Carlson texted, adding, “I hate him passionately.”

Carlson also could “easily destroy” Fox News if they weren’t careful. The host, who has previously boasted of his close relationship with Trump, also said that all of the former president’s business ventures fail and that Trump was only good at “destroying things.”

Murdoch knew the conspiracies Trump spread were lies, as shown by a previously released excerpt of his deposition. But the new documents include more parts of his January deposition, during which he was repeatedly asked about the voting conspiracies being pushed on Fox News.

Murdoch rejected all of the conspiracies, admitting he had “never seen” any effort by Dominion to rig the election against Trump. Still, he spent all of election night hoping Trump would win and allowed his star hosts to go on air and lie when the election didn’t turn out how they wanted.

Maria Bartiromo doubled down on the election conspiracies. Text messages she sent to former Trump advisor and white nationalist Steve Bannon revealed she refused to refer to Joe Biden as the president-elect.

“I want to see massive fraud exposed,” she said. “I told my team we are not allowed to say pres elect at [all]. Not in scripts or in banners on air.”

These latest documents were released the day after Carlson showed a sanitized, cherry-picked version of what happened at the Capitol during the January 6 riot, a move that even some Republican lawmakers condemned. Even after the filings came out, Carlson used his show on Tuesday night to spread his narrative that the January 6 attack wasn’t actually that serious.

Fox News has repeatedly argued that its post-2020 election coverage was newsworthy and thus protected by the First Amendment. After Dominion released the documents Tuesday night, Fox accused the company of “distortions and misinformation in their PR campaign to smear Fox News and trample on free speech and freedom of the press. We already know they will say and do anything to try to win this case, but to twist and even misattribute quotes to the highest levels of our company is truly beyond the pale.”

Someone has distorted facts and misinformed the public. But it’s not Dominion.

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders Signs Law Making Child Labor Easier

Save the children (or not).

Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Sarah Huckabee Sanders

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 banned the employment of kids younger than 16 in any occupation, or those younger than 18 in especially dangerous jobs. Now, in 2023, conservatives are doing everything they can to eliminate those protections. Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has signed a bill that rolls back child labor protections.

The so-called “Youth Hiring Act” eliminates existing law that requires children under 16 to obtain an official employment certificate issued by the state’s Department of Labor. This certificate process is one of the only oversight mechanisms for child labor in the state, and verifies children’s actual age before letting them work.

The bill had passed both Republican-dominated chambers of the state legislature before Sanders signed it on Tuesday. The bill’s passage comes after Hannah Dreier’s shocking New York Times report revealing a “shadow work force” of migrant children “across industries in every state,” like 12-year-old roofers in Florida and Tennessee or 13-year-olds in Michigan making auto parts on an overnight shift that ends at 6:30 a.m, or in meat plants from Alabama to Minnesota.

The elimination of the basic accountability measure may make it easier for companies to exploit children for their labor and time. Laura Kellams, Northwest Arkansas Director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, told KNWA, a local station, that while she is not opposed to more kids gaining work experience, there is still a concern for their neglect.

“That paperwork is only [so that as] a parent we can ensure that a parent is aware that the child is getting the job and that the hours worked don’t violate child labor laws,” Kellams said. “For example, you can’t hire a young person under 16 to work like 6 p.m. to midnight at your restaurant. They have to be finished with work by seven and that’s all about making sure that they’re home and can go to bed in time to be able to learn the next day at school.”

Sanders’s loosening of child work protections follows the introduction of legislation in states from Iowa and Wisconsin, to Minnesota and New Hampshire all aiming to roll back child labor protections and allow companies to seep more time and work out of America’s youth.

During her response to the State of the Union—when she wasn’t pontificating on “critical race theory,” left-wing “rituals” and “woke fantasies,” or even just herself—Sanders shared her vision for what Republicans aim to do for America’s children. “Here in Arkansas and across America, Republicans are working to end the policy of trapping kids in failing schools and sentencing them to a lifetime of poverty,” she said.

It seems Republicans are working to implement policies that trap kids in meatpacking factories instead.

Elon Musk Hops Aboard the Tucker Carlson January 6 Conspiracy Train

The billionaire CEO is going further down the rabbit hole.

Elon Musk stands near a Tesla outside
Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Aside from not attending to the website he owned after most of its basic functionality failed, and conducting a lawyer-heart-attack-inducing layoff of a disabled person via tweet, Elon Musk has spent most of the past day sharing Tucker Carlson–inspired conspiracies about January 6.

Spurred by Carlson’s exclusive blaring of footage of the January 6 attack, Musk maintained incredulity throughout the last 24 hours, tweet after tweet showing in real time the supposedly political enigma going further and further down the rabbit hole.

“Wow,” Musk tweeted in response to a tweet of a clip from Carlson’s show in which Carlson casts doubt surrounding the death of Brian Sicknick, an officer who died hours after defending the Capitol from the rioters. Musk then retweeted a New York Post article about footage showing Sicknick appearing “uninjured.”

Musk then complained about the January 6 committee “misleading the public” and withholding evidence for “partisan political reasons that sent people to prison for far more serious crimes than they committed.”

“I keep forgetting which party he belongs to,” Musk quipped in response to Charlie Kirk tweeting a video of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell criticizing Carlson and Fox for the January 6 conspiracy-peddling.

Musk—the billionaire whose companies are under constant legal scrutiny for faults like destructive self-driving cars, who happily welcomed virulent antisemites and stochastic terrorists like Nick Fuentes back to Twitter, and has allegedly paid off a sexual harassment alleger $250,000 for her silence—called the committee’s attempts to hold domestic terrorists accountable “deeply wrong, legally and morally.”

Not for nothing, on Tuesday, Musk also responded to “@MuskUniversity,” who tweeted a supposed quote of Musk saying, “Many go woke for the moral cloak.”

“So many guys who got MeToo’ed went woke for the moral cloak,” Musk propounded. Apparently $250,000 can keep the moral cloak at bay.

The Tennessee House Just Passed a Bill Completely Gutting Marriage Equality

The bill could allow county clerks to deny marriage licenses to same-sex, interfaith, or interracial couples in Tennessee.

Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Tennessee state Capitol

The Tennessee House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow people to refuse to perform a marriage if they disagree with it.

According to the bill, which passed Monday night, “a person shall not be required to solemnize a marriage.”*

The bill, which now moves to the state Senate, is the latest in an onslaught of measures that the Tennessee legislature has passed attacking LGBTQ rights. This bill could also apply to couples where at least one partner is transgender, or to mixed race couples.

Tennessee law already says that religious leaders do not have to officiate weddings they object to. Critics say the new bill goes beyond that and would empower county clerks to refuse to certify marriage licenses, meaning that LGBTQ, interfaith, or interracial couples could be unable to get married at all, rather than just needing to find a new officiant for their ceremony.

Marriage equality is technically the law of the land thanks to the Respect for Marriage Act, which President Joe Biden signed in December. But Tennessee’s bill exploits a major loophole in that law. Critics had long warned that the Respect for Marriage Act did not go far enough. The bill had been amended during the debate process to say that religious organizations do not have to marry same-sex couples, and the law also does not require states to actually issue same-sex marriage licenses.

This latest bill was passed alongside another measure that would require drag artists to obtain a permit from the government in order to perform. Both come just days after Governor Bill Lee signed two new laws, one banning drag performances in public and another banning gender-affirming care for minors.

The Human Rights Campaign slammed Tennessee’s ongoing “obsession with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.”

“Instead of focusing on the issues that Tennesseans actually care about, radical politicians are wasting their time and using their power to target the LGBTQ+ community,” HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement. “These bills are not about protecting children and they are not about religious freedom.”

“They are about stripping away the basic human rights that LGBTQ+ people have fought for over decades … and labeling us dangerous.”

Supporters of Tennessee’s bills, and dozens of similar ones moving through state legislatures across the country, say their main goal is protecting children. Trans people and drag performers have become a particular target for Republicans and right-wing extremist groups, who accuse them of being pedophiles. But all these bills do is vilify LGBTQ people, including children, and expose them to more violence.

* This article previously quoted the original bill text rather than the amendment that modified this section of the bill.