Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation and the Equality Federation Institute released their annual State Equality Index (SEI), a comprehensive state-by-state report detailing statewide laws and policies that affect LGBTQ people and their families and placing states in one of four categories based on their pro- and anti-LGBTQ state laws. This year’s SEI details the onslaught of more than 125 anti-LGBTQ laws introduced across 30 states during the 2017 state legislative season, including legislative proposals to grant sweeping licenses to discriminate; undercut marriage equality; and target the transgender community -- including transgender children. The report comes as more than 40 state legislatures will reconvene by the end of January. A new 2018 legislative preview report from HRC also found that state legislators, under relentless pressure from opponents of equality, are expected to wage attacks on transgender people -- particularly in the critical areas of health care and access to appropriate restrooms.
The 2017 SEI report points to a few encouraging signs for LGBTQ youth, as well as transgender and gender non-conforming people seeking to update their identity documents. Four states -- Connecticut, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Nevada -- passed new bans on the practice of so-called “conversion therapy,” bringing the total number of states with such bans to 10, plus the District of Columbia. And the number of states in the SEI’s highest-rated category, “Working Toward Innovative Equality,” increased this year from nine to 13. These states and the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. have robust LGBTQ non-discrimination laws covering employment, housing and public accommodations, as well as protections in the areas of credit and insurance. Despite these wins, laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination vary widely across the nation -- or simply do not exist in many states.
“If an LGBTQ couple drove from Maine to California today, their legal rights and civil rights protections could change more than 20 times at state borders and city lines. The vast majority of Americans today understand that this crazy quilt of protections -- and lack thereof -- is wrong, impractical, and unacceptable,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The time has come for us to do away with this ragged patchwork of state laws that fail to protect LGBTQ people equally by passing the Equality Act once and for all.” Read more via HRC