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After Benefiting From Voter Furor Over Economy, Conservatives Prioritize Divisive Social Agenda in States

The morning after Election Day, conservative candidates across the country woke up to find themselves the beneficiaries of an historic national wave of voter anger over the state of the economy and record unemployment.  Yet in the first few weeks after this clear voter statement of frustration over the economy, conservative state lawmakers across the fifty states are already making it clear that their legislative priorities next year will include pushing a divisive social agenda - an agenda that remained largely hidden during the campaign.

Stopping Bullying in Schools

The outcry following the suicides of two Massachusetts students, who killed themselves after being subjected to intense bullying in the past year, culminated in Gov. Deval Patrick signing anti-bullying legislation on May 3rd.  The Massachusetts House and Senate passed the bill unanimously, following more than a decade of work by advocates.  The law prohibits actions that cause emotional or physical harm to students, including taunting over the Internet.  Faculty and students are required to have anti-bullying training and parents must be informed of incidents at school.  School employees, including custodians and cafeteria workers, must report incidents of suspected bullying and principals must investigate each case. 

New England Leads Fight for Marriage Equality

On Monday, March 23rd, the Vermont Senate overwhelmingly passed (26 to 4) a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, making the state the first in the nation to take legislative rather than judicial steps toward granting marriage rights to same-sex couples.  Although House Speaker Shap Smith was confident a majority of representatives would vote in favor of the "marriage equality" act, Governor Jim Douglas revealed in a press conference Wednesday that he would veto the bill, though he did say he would accept a legislative override.

Extending Rights to Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender Americans

Even as the "culture wars" supposedly rage, the reality is that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights are making slow and steady progress across the country.  Gays and lesbians now have protection against workplace discrimination in states covering nearly half the U.S. population, rights for same sex partnerships and adoptions have made gains in at least ten states, and laws making violence or bullying against gays, lesbians, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) people a crime are increasingly being enacted