February 4, 2020 at 3:26 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
High scores for D.C., Md., Del. in LGBTQ Equality Index
Equality Index, gay news, Washington Blade
D.C. scored at the top of the latest Equality Index. (Photo by Ted Eytan via Flickr)

The District of Columbia and 17 states, including Maryland and Delaware, received the top ranking for having multiple laws and policies highly supportive of their LGBTQ residents for 2019 in the 5th Annual State Equality Index released on Jan. 30.

The SEI, which is prepared jointly by the LGBT groups Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Equality Federation Institute, treats D.C. as a state. Its rankings place states into four categories in the order of the degree of LGBT supportive policies and laws in place, the lack of such laws and policies, and laws and policies hostile to LGBTQ people.

The 2019 SEI places Virginia among 28 states in the lowest-ranked category that it calls “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality.” However, a statement accompanying the SEI report says Virginia is also among a few of the lower-ranking states in which LGBTQ supportive bills have been introduced in their 2020 legislative sessions.

Among the proposed legislation, the statement says, is the Virginia Values Act, a bill that would amend the state’s existing human rights laws and provide non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in employment and housing.

The report says the SEI assesses states by looking at whether they have adopted LGBTQ-related laws and policies “in the areas of parenting laws and policies, religious refusal and relationship recognition law, non-discrimination laws and policies, hate crime and criminal justice laws, youth-related laws and policies and health and safety laws and policies.”

In addition to D.C., Maryland, and Delaware, the other states placed in the top ranked category – called “Working Toward Innovative Equality” — include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Among the states in the lowest-ranking category along with Virginia are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, and Georgia.

The full State Equality Index for 2019 can be accessed via hrc.org.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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