The 2010s have been a banner decade for bad laws. States in the US have passed a stack of new voter ID laws in response to a non-existent rash of voter fraud, fought with the federal government about same-sex marriage and LGBT rights, and done almost everything possible to criminalize homelessness.
Some of these laws have made it difficult for married women to vote in Texas, they've given states a license to discriminate in the guise of "religious freedom," criminalized behavior between consenting adults, regulated what bathroom people can use, and on and on. Some of the worst laws never actually made it to the governor's desk for signature but just the fact that they were proposed should be chilling to freedom-loving people everywhere.Here are some of the most backwards and insane laws passed throughout the 2010s so far.
Tennessee approved a law letting mental health counselors discriminate.
In April 2016, Tennessee's state legislature approved a measure that would allow therapists to refuse to treat LGBT patients based on religious objections. One of a raft of laws that LGBT advocates claim are nothing more than legalized bigotry, the measure protected mental health counselors from legal or civil ramifications if they deny services to clients whose religious beliefs conflict with their own. The state's governor signed the law several weeks later.
North Carolina's "bathroom bill."
Criticized as everything from reactionary and shoved through the legislature (it was passed in one day) to a solution looking for a problem, North Carolina's HB2 was the so-called "bathroom bill" that mandated people use the restroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate. It also eliminates anti-discrimination protections for the state and individual cities.
The bill was supposedly passed as a "common sense" measure that disallowed an ordinance passed by Charlotte which prohibited discrimination in public facilities. That ordinance was seen by supporters as enabling child predators and perverts to go into women's bathrooms and claim they were transgender. The bill was seen by critics as unconstitutional, massively bigoted, and a reaction to a crime that had never been documented. Numerous cities in North Carolina itself objected to the law, and vowed not to enforce it.The bill brought a host of boycotts on the state, as artists canceled concerts and business scuttled plans to expand into North Carolina. The state's governor had to clarify what the bill was about, amend it, and continuously explain it, while he still defended its necessity. In May 2016, the Department of Justice sued the state's governor on the grounds that the bill violates federal law. The state promptly sued the Obama administration right back, and the matter is tied up in court.
Texas disenfranchised married women who have their maiden name on their ID.
While the issue of voter fraud has had a much more impassioned response than it warrants (a Washington Post investigation found about 30 cases total in every election from 2000 to 2014), Texas took its voter ID crusade one step too far in 2012. That's when the state passed a restrictive new ID law that, among other things, won't let a woman use an ID with her maiden name if she changed it after marriage.A federal court struck down the law, but the Supreme Court overturned that decision when it ruled parts of the Voting Rights Act were unconstitutional. As a result, a complex set of rules sprung up as to what ID women could use, and countless women in Texas had trouble voting, including a federal judge and the state's governor, Wendy Davis.
Mississippi's soda ban, ban.
In 2013, Mississippi bravely led the charge against being denied massive restaurant portions or Super Big Gulps when the state's governor signed a law preventing counties and towns from enacting portion size laws. The bill was a reaction to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's law, since struck down, that allowed the city to regulate the size of soda cups and restaurant portions. Mississippi's law would only allow the state legislature to make such laws - and the governor made clear that wasn't going to happen.Mississippi has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation, with 35% of its population massively overweight.