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Report: Progress toward LGBT equality surprisingly ‘mixed’

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
AP (File)

AP (File)

An independent think tank that studies the progress of the movement on equal rights for LGBT people released its latest report Tuesday, and the assessment is surprisingly “mixed.”

The Movement Advancement Project’s “Momentum Report” acknowledges “unprecedented progress” towards marriage equality in the past two years but notes that, while 17 states allow same-sex couples to marry, 33 don’t. And progress on other issues of importance to the LGBT movement, such as bullying and employment discrimination, ‘have slowed significantly.”

“In fact, over half of U.S. states lack even the basic laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations,” notes MAP, a Denver-based group whose work is funded by 13 foundations and LGBT supporters, including the Gill Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the David Geffen Foundation, and James Hormel.

“The fact is, most states have passed few or no laws protecting LGBT people,” states the report. “In the spirit of Charles Dickens’ famous line, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,’ the remarkable progress of recent years in some states has obscured the fact that in a majority of states, LGBT people still are treated under the law as second-class citizens.”

The report divides the states into three categories: “High Equality” states (20 plus D.C.), “Medium Equality” states (2-Wisconsin and Indiana), and “Low Equality” states. The “High Equality” states include California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York.

The “Low Equality” states include Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and Texas.

The report said momentum favors continued progress in marriage equality, in large part because public opinion polls show a growing percentage of Americans accept the fairness of allowing same-sex couples to marry.

But it noted that, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the availability of benefits involving certain federal agencies – Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, to name three big ones — remains “unclear.”

The report also noted “real progress” in fighting discrimination through local government ordinances and major employer policies. It noted that 188 local governments in states with no sexual orientation discrimination protection now prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, as does 91 percent of Fortune 500 corporations.

Among the more interesting facts included in the report this year are:

  • Every state but one has an openly LGBT elected official;
  • There are more than one million LGBT veterans; 71,000 are serving in the military currently;
  • There are about 140,000 transgender veterans;
  • Only 21 states and D.C. have “unambiguous laws” allowing same-sex couples to adopt children;
  • 20 percent of hate crimes reported by law enforcement agencies to the FBI in 2012 involved sexual orientation bias;
  • Three times as many people between the ages of 18 and 29 self-identify as LGBT compared to people 65 and older; and
  • “The number of regular and recurring LGBT characters on broadcast network television reached its highest point in five years during the 2012-13 season.”

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10 more reader comments:

  1. Luis Hernandez

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 5:24pm
  2. Doesnt surprise me. We’ll never be equal.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 6:35pm
  3. Hm. These are the cup-is-half-empty folks. The debate is and has been for some time clearly ratcheting in the direction of equality.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 7:18pm
  4. I think this report is very pessimistic and not based in reality, to be frank. Just my two cents.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 7:44pm
  5. I have to agree. It's quite obvious these people haven't been paying attention to the exponential leaps forward in equality over the past few years.

    Replied on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 9:19pm
  6. Relations should be equal!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 11:42pm
  7. this is rubbish reporting..

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 12:46am
  8. There will always be people who just don’t get the need for equality legislation, the old “…but I’m not prejudiced…”; they simply don’t see the discrimination and so don’t get it. Then,of course,there are the haters,and they are a lost cause. Federal legislation is the only answer, and it will happen, hopefully sooner than later. Perhaps the LGBTQ equality groups should also start a campaign to let people know that there are still more anti-gay laws in this nation than pro-gay. Some education couldn’t hurt. I know many of my friends and acquaintances-gay and straight-are often surprised when they learn of some law that discriminates against us,and these are progressive bright people. They just assume things are different.

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 1:25am
  9. uh huh. because 20 from 0 is clearly not progress.

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 4:25am
  10. Why do we need to take steps toward equality though? We should just have it!

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 7:14am