The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released their fifth annual State Equality Index (SEI), which looks at state legislation and determines the level of LGBTQ equality in all 50 states. According to the SEI, more than half of states have low levels of LGBTQ equality.
According to the report, 21 bills were passed relating to LGBTQ equality last year nationwide. 210 “good” bills and 110 “bad” bills were introduced by state lawmakers.
The HRC evaluated each state and gave them one of four rankings: “working towards innovating equality,” “solidifying equality,” “building equality,” and “high priority to achieve basic equality.”
16 states earned the highest ranking of “working towards innovating equality,” meaning they “have a broad range of protections to ensure equality for LGBTQ people.” These states were California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. This was an increase of three (Delaware, New Jersey, and New Mexico) from the last SEI.
Four states that received the “solidifying equality” ranking – Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, and New Hampshire – have “basic protections” like anti-discrimination laws.
The two “building equality states,” Utah and Wisconsin, have a wide variety of LGBTQ protection within the state, not consistent enough to receive a higher ranking.
The lowest ranking, “high priority to achieve basic equality,” saw the most representation with the remaining 28 states – including Georgia – and D.C. falling under this category. That means over half the country are areas that are most likely to have anti-LGBTQ legislation and religious refusal of pro-LGBTQ laws.
The report also looked at the distribution of different kinds of LGBTQ legislation, like laws pertaining to HIV/AIDS, hate crimes, anti-conversion therapy, and workplace discrimination protections.
HRC President Chad Griffin said that these results highlight how important passing a federal Equality Act is.
“LGBTQ people still face the sobering reality that their rights are determined by which side of a state or city line they call home,” Griffin said. “As this year’s State Equality Index makes clear, the time has come for us to do away with this patchwork of state laws and to protect all LGBTQ people by passing the Equality Act.”