Tag archives: State of the States

State of Sex Trafficking In the States

by Family Research Council

March 22, 2011

In an address to the U.N. General Assembly President Bush said:

Each year, an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 human beings are bought, sold or forced across the world’s borders. Among them are hundreds of thousands of teenage girls, and others as young as five, who fall victim to the sex trade. This commerce in human life generates billions of dollars each year — much of which is used to finance organized crime. Theres a special evil in the abuse and exploitation of the most innocent and vulnerable. The victims of sex trade see little of life before they see the very worst of life, an underground of brutality and lonely fear. Those who create these victims and profit from their suffering must be severely punished. Those who patronize this industry debase themselves and deepen the misery of others. And governments that tolerate this trade are tolerating a form of slavery.

This tragic form of slavery is not just a problem over there, in third world countries far removed from us. On the contrary, it is happening right in our own backyard. Despite laws criminalizing it, sex trafficking is a huge problem in America.

In The National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: Americas Prostituted Children, Shared Hope International affirms that at least 100,000 American children a year are victims of sex trafficking, and that number may be much higher. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) highlights the fact that sex trafficking of children is largely under-reported in their estimate that 1 in 5 girls are sexually abused or assaulted before they become adults and 1 in 10 boys, however less than 35% of those cases are reported. Researchers estimate that 1015 percent of children living on the streets in the United States are trafficked for sexual purposes according to the National Institute of Justice in their report Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: What Do We Know and What Do We Do About It?.

And that question, What do we do about it? must be considered, both on an individual level and a state/federal government level. Legislatively speaking, both the federal government and many state governments have passed laws criminalizing human trafficking, and providing for its punishment (see figure 1 below). However, we are finding that this is not enough. Shared Hope International states:

Victims of domestic minor sex trafficking are frequently processed as juvenile delinquents or adult prostitutes. Prostituted juveniles are trained by their trafficker/pimp to lie to authorities and are provided with excellent fraudulent identification resulting in their registration in the arrest records as an adult… Due to the unique trauma bonding that occurs between a victim and her trafficker, these children often run from juvenile facilities right back to the person that exploited them.

The National Institute of Justice says it is estimated that 96 to 98 percent of victims are in need of basic amenities for survival: food, housing, transportation, etc. In response to this many states have introduced legislative initiatives to promote awareness and support to those brutalized by sex trafficking. The figures below will give you an idea of the state of sex trafficking laws in the states.

For a detailed explanation of each state law check out the Fact Sheet on State Anti-Trafficking Laws from US PACT [Policy Advocacy to Combat Trafficking] a program of the Center for Women Policy Studies.

For assistance or to report a sex trafficking case contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center national hotline at: 1-888-3737-888 or go to the Polaris Project website.

To view a detailed US Department of State summary on human trafficking in the US and other countries click here.

State of Pro-Life Legislation in the States

by Family Research Council

March 17, 2011

Polling data affirms that more Americans now consider themselves pro-life than pro-abortion with the percentages coming in at 51% to 42% according to a Gallup poll conducted May 7th - 10th, 2009. This pro-life view was voiced at the polls last November resulting in the election of many pro-life legislatures across the states. Pledging their commitment to support the rights of the unborn child, legislators in many states have sponsored a broad range of pro-life bills. These bills range in subject matter from requiring ultrasounds, to parental consent, to stricter abortion clinic regulations, to bills that would outlaw abortions from the point at which the unborn can feel pain, but all are uniformly based on the fundamental idea that life is precious and should be protected at all stages of development.

The following maps will begin to give you a picture of the state of pro-life legislation in the states. More maps documenting pro-life legislation will be forthcoming.

State of the States: Rhode Island

by Family Research Council

March 17, 2011

Same-sex “marriage” bills (H 5012 and S 29) have been heard in both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, but have not yet received a vote. Gordon Fox, openly homosexual and the speaker of the largely Democratic House, wants to delay the vote on the House version of the bill until he can be sure it has enough supporting votes to pass. This hesitance to move forward with same-sex marriage is good news for supporters of marriage defined as one man and one woman.

Even if the votes are obtained to pass the House, Senate passage is far from certain especially since the Senate President, Theresa Paiva-Weed, opposes same-sex marriage. Governor Lincoln Chafee, however, supports the bills, even urging their passage in his inaugural address, and has pledged his signature should one of them reach his desk.

These two same-sex marriage bills are not the only legislation regarding marriage and relationships in Rhode Island. Also heard in the Senate Judiciary committee last Thursday were two constitutional amendments defining marriage (S 162 and S 115). Senate Bill 162 defines the only valid marriage in RI as between a man and a woman, while Senate Bill 115 also defines marriage as between a man and a woman, but leaves open the possibility of establishing civil unions for same-sex couples. Should either of these bills pass (or the House version, H 5260), it would be submitted to the citizens of Rhode Island for a vote.

Two bills regarding domestic unions between persons of the same sex have also received a hearing. Senate Bill 376 would legalize domestic unions between any two adult spouses regardless of sex, and Senate Bill 377 would establish reciprocal beneficiary agreements for any two adults who do not fit within the legal definition of marriage, essentially granting the rights, benefits, and protections of marriage to same-sex couples.

Also in both House and Senate committees are bills that further expand the definition of “hate crimes,” making the motivation behind a crime a crime itself and including gender identity and sexual orientation as a protected class (H 5089 and S 121). In addition, several bills implementing abortion restrictions or unborn child protections are currently in committee.

State of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in the States

by Family Research Council

March 14, 2011

Several state non-discrimination statutes include the phrases gender identity/gender expression and sexual orientation as factors in addition to race and sex against which alleged discrimination is prohibited. Other state legislatures have proposed legislation which would add these terms or further broaden them. Many bills would make it illegal to deny employment, housing and even public accommodations such as rest rooms and other traditionally sex-specific spaces to a person based upon what sex they perceive themselves to be any particular day.

The concept of gender identity/gender expression attempts to legitimize a persons wish, perception or belief that he or she is the opposite sex than his or her actual sex at birth. This type of legislation tries to normalize and mainstream transgendered behavior, cross-dressing, etc. Additionally if enacted, those measures that include public accommodations become a public safety concern. This occurs by creating legitimized access sought by predators to women and children in places such as public restrooms and gym locker rooms, where entitlement to privacy has always been recognized.

The map below will give you an idea of the state of gender identity/gender expression and sexual orientation in the states.

State of the States: Wyoming

by Family Research Council

March 7, 2011

Shortly before the Wyoming legislature adjourned (March 3rd), a final vote to concur on HB74, as passed out of the joint conference committee, was held in both the House and Senate. The final version of HB74 stated that Wyoming would not recognize same-sex “marriages” performed out-of-state, but did not address civil unions or other relationships. The House voted 31 to 28 to pass the bill as amended, however the Senate failed the bill by a 16 to 14 vote.

It is unfortunate that this bill would die by such a close margin, especially with strong Republican majorities in both Houses. Becky Vandeberghe, president of WyWatch Family Action, emphasized however that this bill and other pro-family bills had made it farther in the legislative process this year than in past sessions, and that constituents now have a clear voting record of their legislators stance on marriage.

Other marriage-related bills that did not receive a final vote before the session adjourned include: SJ 5, a Marriage Protection Amendment, HB 150, a bill establishing civil unions, and HB 149, a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. These are issues that Wyoming voters can expect to weigh in on in future sessions.

Concerning other issues, three bills that did not pass out of the legislature this session include a bill that would prohibit assisted suicide (HB 148), a bill that would establish gender identity/sexual orientation “non-discrimination” (HB 142), and a bill that would require doctors to give specified information to women and tell them they could view an ultrasound before performing an abortion (HB 251).

State of Physician Assisted Suicide in the States

by Family Research Council

March 7, 2011

Since Oregon became the first to legalize physician assisted suicide, this issue has come up in several other states. Many have passed laws prohibiting physician assisted suicide, while others are currently debating this issue. The following map will give you a good picture of the state of physician assisted suicide in the states.

State of the States: Life Affirmed in South Dakota

by Family Research Council

March 4, 2011

On Wednesday, the South Dakota Senate approved HB1217, a measure designed to protect women and help ensure that a decision to have an abortion is informed and not coerced. The bill establishes a 72-hour waiting period for an abortion, after a physician has consulted with the woman and completed a risk assessment. Additionally, the physician will be required to provide the woman with contact information for nearby pregnancy help centers for her to schedule a consultation with them so that she can be fully informed of the risks of the abortion procedure and hear about possible alternatives.

Chris Hupke, Executive Director, South Dakota Family Policy Council says this bill is all about education. Planned Parenthood has established themselves to be unreliable to provide the education (to women seeking an abortion). This bill would not be necessary if Planned Parenthood was doing their job. Citing cases where women are forced into an abortion by the father of the child, or feel pressured while emotionally vulnerable Chris goes on to emphasize that, Coercion is not choice. We are trying to make sure that (abortion) is a voluntary choice.

Governor Dennis Daugaard has appeared to indicate that he will sign the bill, stating in an article by the Rapid City Journal:

I am pro-life, I’ve read the bill and I’m inclined to sign it, but I want to examine it along with the counsel of others to make sure there’s no unintended consequences that haven’t been identified during the debate.”

Passage of this bill by both chambers is an enormous victory for life and we congratulate the South Dakota Family Policy Council for their tireless work on this bill. If signed into law, South Dakota will surpass the other states with the strongest safeguards ensuring that women are informed about their unplanned pregnancies.

State of the States: New Hampshire

by Family Research Council

March 3, 2011

Two bills (HB437 and HB443) repealing same-sex marriage (which was passed into law last year) and defining marriage as between one man and one woman have been heard in the House Judiciary Committee, and may be voted upon as soon as today. (Update: Both measures received a “vote to retain” meaning they will not be passed on to be considered before the full legislature this session.)

Recently a bill for which FRC sent an alert, HB 329 requiring parental notification before performing an abortion on a minor, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. It will now proceed to the full house floor. The passage of this bill out of committee was a great victory for parental rights and for life. Credit is due to Cornerstone, the NH Family Policy Council for their continual support of families through involvement in the state legislature.

Another bill that supports families, for which an alert was sent, is HB 587. This bill prohibits spouses from getting a divorce solely on the grounds of irreconcilable differences if they have minor children. The public hearing started this morning at 9:30am in the Legislative Office Building Room 206. (Update: The outcome for HB 587 is unknown, however it is likely that it may be amended to a study committee.)

Scheduled for an upcoming vote in committee is HB 228, a bill which would prohibit the use of public funds for abortion. In addition, this bill also prohibits the Department of Health from entering into any sort of contract with Planned Parenthood. The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee meets at 10:00am in the Legislative Office Building Room 205 and will likely vote on HB 228 March 9th.

Two more bills, both in the House Judiciary Committee, which we have been tracking, HB 513 and HB 569, are scheduled for votes sometime next week. House Bill 513 would legalize physician assisted suicide, and House Bill 569 would establish domestic unions, making them the legal equivalent to marriage. (Update: HB 513 received the vote “inexpedient to legislate” on March 3rd and will be brought before the full house with a strong recommendation to fail.)

State of Homosexual Relationships in the States

by Family Research Council

March 1, 2011

Currently Same Sex Marriage is legal in five states and the District of Colombia, while some form of civil unions or domestic partnerships is legal in nine other states. The maps below give a clear picture of the state of homosexual relationships in the states.

New: State of the States

by Family Research Council

February 28, 2011

In effort to continue to help equip and inform you about important current issues, Family Research Council is adding a new category to our blog, the “State of the States.” As this 2011 legislative session advances, we will keep you apprised of the status of key family-related legislation across the 50 states as well as post color-coded maps giving you the state of the states at a glance. Armed with that knowledge you can then take steps to get involved in the legislative process by calling your legislators and encouraging your friends to join you and Family Research Council in advancing faith, family, and freedom today!

Below are two maps outlining the status of marriage in the states. Check back tomorrow for more maps detailing the status of homosexual relationships in the states.

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