By George Kevin Jordan, AFRO Staff Writer
Washington D.C. sat alongside 16 states that ranked in the highest category of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation and the Equality Federation Institute’s 5th Annual State Equality Index (SEI), a report that unpacks state legislation that impact the LGBTQ community.
“Working Toward Innovative Equality” is the reports highest rating for states that have “robust LGBTQ non discrimination laws covering employment, housing and public accommodations, as well as protections in the areas of credit and insurance,” the HRC officials said in a press release.
The District of Columbia received the top rating along side California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
According to the reports scorecard on D.C., the District. had several key laws on the books that offered protections to the LGBTQ communty including hate crime laws, foster care non discrimination laws and public accomodation laws to name a few. Also the reports annual progress report of D.C. found no “Bad Bills Introduced” that would harm the LGBTQ community.
This is in contrast to the more than 100 anti-LGBTQ laws the SEI concluded were introduced across 29 states during the 2018 state legislative season, including proposals to grant sweeping licenses to discriminate, undercut marriage equality and target the transgender community — including transgender children. HRC worked on the ground with local advocates and allies to defeat all but two of these bills.
There are four rating tiers, however and other states did not fare as well. Four states were in the category “Solidifying Equality”: Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland and New Hampshire.
Utah and Wisconsin were the two states in the “Building Equality” category.“High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality” is the lowest rating level and 28 states fell in this category including: 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.
Legislation and accountability measurements are important for getting more legislation on the books and protecting the LGBTQ community.
“The work of the HRC Foundation and programs like the State Equality Index, along with HRC’s efforts day in and day out to advance protections for LGBTQ people at the state and federal level are vital to the struggle for LGBTQ civil rights,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. ”HRC and our partners on the ground defeated dozens of anti-LGBTQ bills last year, and worked to pass crucial pro-equality measures that ensure LGBTQ Americans are protected wherever they live. Already, we see the promise of even more protections passing in 2019 — with action taken in New York, Virginia, Kansas, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.”
Griffin added, “However, LGBTQ people still face the sobering reality that their rights are determined by which side of a state or city line they call home. 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 federal Equality Act.”
While the HRC noted that the highest ratings category grew from 13 to 17 in the last year, overall LGBTQ people are still vulnerable of losing employment, or other protections in 30 states. And with no federal legislation in place, citizens are dependents on each state’s laws to protect them.
To see the full report please go to https://www.hrc.org/campaigns/state-equality-index