Last weeks ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County granted federal employment non-discrimination protections to LGBT Americans nationwide and some have suggested perhaps the gay rights movement has finished its work and accomplished its goals. My response to this ludicrous suggestion is "hell no" since there remains huge amounts of work to be done at the state level and even with the newly granted federal protections, I suspect in many red states and even rural areas of some blue states being LGBT will continue to be a potentially life threatening situation. Thus, the questions becomes what states should one consider moving to or visiting on vacations if you are LGBT and want to have some sense of safety and legal protections. USA Today is reporting the results of a national survey of states ranking the states from worse to best places for LGBT citizens. The rankings include laws protection LGBT citizens and is slightly out of date because it uses 2019 laws which, as a result does not include the panoply of laws enacted in Virginia this spring. As a result, per the survey, Virginia earns a 35th place ranking (hopefully, this ranking will move up markedly next year. Not surprisingly, Alabama wins the worse place ranking and surprisingly, Mississippi ranks a number of rungs higher, thereby depriving Alabamians the often cited saying "thank god for Mississippi" for saving them from last place. Below are the rankings of several states. Take the time to read the entire piece, especially if you are thinking of relocating - both individually or moving a business - or traveling domestically during the coming year. Here are article excerpts:
Across the United States, Americans have increasingly embraced equal treatment and access for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Americans over the last decade. According to a Gallup poll in 2019, 63% of Americans supported same-sex marriage, compared with about 44% in 2010. Some cities are more welcoming to the LGBTQ community than their respective states – Austin, Texas, is one example – but, in general, entire states (rather than just cities within them) are moving toward protecting and empowering their LGBTQ residents.
In acknowledgement of Pride month, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the states most and least welcoming to the LGBTQ community. We created an index of three measures – hate crimes motivated by gender and sexual orientation reported per 100,000 people, laws protecting the LGTBQ community, and the percentage of each state's population who identifies as LGTBQ – to identify the best and worst states for LGBTQ people.
While there has been no doubt progress toward equality, anti-equality activists and politicians still have a lot of influence – in some states more than others. In Texas alone, 19 anti-LGBTQ bills were filed in 2019. In Iowa, transgender health care benefits were removed from the state’s medical plan. Across the country, 102 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced, and seven became laws.
Even though the U.S. – and the world – is slowly becoming a more welcoming place for LGBTQ people, there are still many places where same-sex relationships are considered criminal behavior.
50. AlabamaBased on its relatively small LGBTQ population and lack of progress passing laws that protect LGBTQ communities, Alabama is the worst state in the nation for LGBTQ Americans. Unlike the vast majority of states, which have mandatory hate crime reporting laws, Alabama police jurisdictions do not participate in reporting of hate crimes motivated by gender or sexual orientation.
In fact, the state has very few laws that positively affect LGTBQ residents, and plenty of rules that negatively affect LGBTQ communities. For example, in 2017, Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation that would permit religious agencies to deny placing an adopted child in LGBTQ families. Alabama also restricts inclusion of LGBTQ topics in schools, and the state is one of 26 states that criminalize behaviors that carry low or negligible risk of HIV transmission (such as anti-sodomy laws). Such laws are considered archaic and frequently lead to abuse and discrimination against HIV-positive individuals and harms public health efforts.
49. WyomingJust 3.3% of Wyoming's population identifies as LGBTQ, the ninth lowest such share of any state. Relatively low numbers of LGBTQ state residents could reflect lower likelihood of identifying as LGBTQ and a generally less hospitable state for the community.
Wyoming is the state where Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, was beaten and left to die in the town of Laramie in 1998, in an incident that shocked the nation. There have been other incidents against gay people in recent years, and a gay man who was bullied committed suicide in 2016. Tragic incidents such as these are unfortunately common across the country, but considering the general inhospitable environment in the state, including lacking laws that would protect basic LGBTQ civil rights, these incidents take perhaps additional meaning in Wyoming. Still, there are people in Wyoming who continue to struggle for equal rights under the law. The cities of Casper and Cheyenne held their first pride marches in 2017.
35. VirginiaUntil very recently, Virginia was not making progress toward equality for the LGBTQ community. In April 2020, a few months after the HRC latest report was published, the state passed several laws that provided anti-discrimination protections to the LGBTQ community, making Virginia the first state in the South to do so. The state made it easier for people to update the gender marker on their birth certificate. The laws will take effect July 1.
While progress has been made, LGBTQ residents still face challenges that non-LGBTQ residents do not. Virginia has legal provisions that allow adoption and foster care agencies to turn away prospective LGBTQ parents on the grounds of religious freedom. The state does not have laws protecting students from discrimination in schools based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
3. New YorkNew York has special significance to the LGBTQ community, as the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York City helped spark massive changes in the nation's understanding of LGBTQ issues and paved the way for more equality to the LGBTQ community.
Today, New York ranks as one of the best states for LGBTQ people. In the last decade, the state legislature has passed 30 laws protecting the rights and safety of its LGBTQ residents. The state has some of the most comprehensive non discrimination laws of any state.
2. VermontVermont ranks as one of the best states for LGBTQ people. It provides better access to CenterLink pride centers than any other state. Vermont has an estimated 26,000 LGBTQ people and three pride centers.
The state also has some of the most comprehensive health and safety laws for LGBTQ residents among all states. It ensures that transgender people cannot be excluded from health care. Vermont also collects data on the health and well being of LGBTQ youth and adults. It also has extensive nondiscrimination laws.
1. NevadaNevada ranks as the best state in America for LGBTQ people. It has a relatively low share of hate crimes motivated by gender identity or sexual orientation. It also has nearly all laws suggested by the HRC for LGBTQ rights, including nondiscrimination laws, parenting laws, statutes against hate crimes, and those ensuring protections for health care access.
Nevada passed 34 laws protecting the rights and safety of its LGBTQ residents from 2009 to 2019. The state also has no laws considered infringing on these protections, according to the HRC.
To identify the best and worst states for LGBTQ people, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of three measures: hate crimes reported per 100,000 people, laws protecting LGTBQ communities, and the percentage of each state's population who identify as LGTBQ. Each of these three measures were weighted equally in the index.
State laws affecting LGBTQ communities came from the Human Rights Campaign’s 2019 State Equality Index, which defined such laws as positive or negative to LGBTQ Americans. The Equality Index classified each state into one of four categories: “high priority for basic equality,” "building equality," "solidifying equality," “working toward innovative equality.” 24/7 Wall St. assigned scores to each of the categories that could be normalized for the index. States that were labeled a “high priority for basic equality” received the lowest score, while states that were “working toward innovative equality” were ranked higher on our list.