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.