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Study: Best States for LGBTQ Rights

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A new study by BestPlaces looks at ten indicators to produce the first ranking of Best States for LGBTQ Rights. Same-sex marriage is the only federally-mandated right, so other related rights vary widely across the 50 states.

Ten topics are evaluated:

  • Conversion Therapy – State Protects Youth From So-Called “Conversion Therapy”
  • Education – Address discrimination against students based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • Employment – Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • Gender Marker Updates On Identification Documents – Facilitate gender marker update on birth certificates and/or driver’s licenses
  • Hate Crimes – Address hate or bias crimes based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • Housing – Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • Marriage Equality & Other Relationship Recognition – FEDERAL MANDATE – Issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples
  • Public Accommodations – Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • School Anti-Bullying – Address harassment and/or bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Transgender Healthcare – Both bans on insurance exclusions for transgender healthcare and provide transgender inclusive health benefits for state employees

To produce the ranking, recent news and legislation were researched and various advocacy groups consulted. Of particular use was the State Equality Index conducted annually by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Rankings

For each issue that a state currently provides full legal support for, one full point is assigned. Where a state provides partial legal support for an issue, one-half of a point is given. No points are given where support is absent. A total of 10 points are possible.

Most Rights

The 14 states in green on the map (score of 8 or above) currently have a broad range of protections for LGBTQ people, having partial or full support for all ten of the categories. Six states (California, Connecticut, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Washington) and the District of Columbia support all ten of the categories, earning a top score of 10.

Some Rights

Several states are only a few steps away from complete legal protection in the ten categories considered. Massachusetts and Vermont could achieve a top score by improving their policies facilitating gender marker updates on identification documents (e.g. birth certificates and driver licenses). Illinois has no bans on insurance exclusions for transgender healthcare nor does it provide transgender-inclusive health benefits to state employees. Maryland lacks legislation that addresses discrimination against students based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Minnesota has no restrictions on so-called “conversion therapy.” Rhode Island law does not address discrimination against students based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Minimal Rights

Nine states currently give no support for any of the researched issues. These states (Alaska, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming) receive the lowest overall score of one point.

You can view the entire spreadsheet here, outlining all the rights issues and their level of support by state.

2019 BestPlaces LGBTQ RankingPoints
California10
Connecticut 10
Nevada 10
New York 10
Oregon 10
Washington 10
District of Columbia 10
Massachusetts 9.5
Vermont9.5
Illinois9
Maryland9
Minnesota9
Rhode Island9
New Jersey8.5
Colorado8
Delaware8
Hawaii7.5
Maine7.5
Iowa7
New Hampshire7
New Mexico6
Utah4
Wisconsin3.5
Missouri2.5
Pennsylvania2.5
Arizona2
Arkansas2
Kansas2
North Carolina2
West Virginia2
Alabama1.5
Florida 1.5
Idaho 1.5
Indiana 1.5
Kentucky 1.5
Louisiana 1.5
Nebraska 1.5
North Dakota 1.5
Ohio 1.5
Tennessee 1.5
Texas 1.5
Virginia 1.5
Alaska 1
Georgia 1
Michigan 1
Mississippi 1
Montana 1
Oklahoma 1
South Carolina 1
South Dakota 1
Wyoming 1

Source: Press release

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february 2020

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