The Human Rights Campaign released their fifth annual State Equality Index on Thursday (31 January). This extensive report looks at state-level legislation and determines how all 50 states plus the District of Columbia fare regarding LGBTI equality.
The State Equality Index (SEI) is split into several sections. An overall look at the country and states’ various legislation comprises the first half of the document.
The report then breaks down each state one-by-one in the second half.
Based on the report, various states passed a total of 21 bills relating to LGBTI equality. These bills addressed different legislative areas, including hate crimes, youth laws, and more.
Overall, lawmakers introduced 210 ‘good’ bills last year. This number — and the amount passed — are both more than the ‘bad’ bills of 2018.
Per the report, a total of 110 bad bills were introduced last year and two passed.
Scores of the states
In the report, HRC evaluates each state and gives them one of four rankings.
The best is ‘working towards innovating equality’. These states ‘have a broad range of protections to ensure equality for LGBTQ people’. A total of 16 states earned this ranking: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
‘Solidifying equality’ is the ranking of states with ‘basic protections’, including anti-discrimination and bullying laws.
Four states earned this ranking: Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland and New Hampshire.
Next, two states earned the ranking of ‘building equality’, Utah and Wisconsin. Work towards LGBTI equality widely vary in these states.
Finally, more than half of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, earned the lowest ranking, ‘high priority to achieve basic equality’. These states are most likely to have anti-LGBTI legislation and a strong base of religious refusal for pro-LGBTI legislation.
These 28 states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Where states stand on certain issues
The report also looks at various types of LGBTI legislation and which states have them.
For example, these maps show legislation pertaining to HIV and AIDS, as well as hate crimes and criminal justice.
The HIV and AIDS map highlights states with laws that criminalize behaviors and activities with low or negligible rise of transmission.
Meanwhile, the hate crimes and criminal justice map shows two forms of legislation. Blue states have a law addressing to hate crimes on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity. Green states only have laws that address sexual orientation, while greyed out states have neither.
Another example in the report are states with laws protecting minors from conversion therapy.
The report, overall, reveals the tremendous amount of work left to be done.