Despite President Obama’s wonderful declaration of support for marriage equality, the devastating passage of Amendment One in North Carolina shows how far we have to go as a nation. It is also imporant to understand how your rights are protected based on where you live. Now there’s a handy tool to look at gay rights by state.
In a very thorough analysis this week, British news daily The Guardian, published a ranking of all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) on seven key areas of civil rights. The factors rated by The Guardian include:
- Marriage, indicating whether it is fully allowed or banned and including partial credit for domestic partnerships.
- Hospital visitation rights, including how same-sex partners are respected as family members.
- Adoption rights, indicating whether LGBT couples can jointly adopt (or are explicitly banned from doing so).
- Employment, indicating what workplace protections exist based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Housing, indicating laws requiring fair treatment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Hate crimes, indicating laws providing for harsher punishment of crimes motivated by the victim’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Schools, indicating laws that protect students based on sexual orientation and gender identity and any explicit anti-LGBT bullying provision.
The analysis also compares states by region. Generally speaking, the Northeast has the strongest, most consistent protections (including three states with perfect scores – CT, MA, and VT) and the Southeast has the weakest (followed closely by the Midwest). Using a distinctly British approach to the regions, The Guardian identifies six Northwest states (OR, WA, ID, AK, MT, and WY). Washington received a perfect score; Oregon fell short on marriage equality but was otherwise perfect, ranking in the top 10. Only Oregon and Washington meet any of the categories other than some school protections. It’s also nice to know that many elected officials in Oregon responded positively to the President’s announcement on Wednesday.
Of course day-to-day safety and success for LGBT Americans varies based on more than the state or region in which one lives. Metropolitan areas are generally safer and more accepting than more rural areas, regardless of the state. But knowing how a region demonstrates its support (or hostility) to gay rights is an important factor in daily life.