(Photo by Flickr user torbakhopper, used under a Creative Commons license)
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation just released its 2017 State Equality Index, and its findings were similar to last year’s for the First State: Delaware is one of five states, also including Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey and New Mexico placed in the “Solidifying Equality” category:
These states have non-discrimination protections and are considered high-performing, but have not yet adopted innovative equality measures.
In Delaware’s case, we have no specifically anti-LGBTQ laws on the books, such as surrogacy or adoption prohibition, religious refusal laws or laws that prohibit trans people from receiving appropriate ID. We also have non-discrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people in most categories such as employment and housing, LGBTQ protections under the hate crime law and a ban on insurance exclusions for trans healthcare.
However, Delaware still doesn’t have a second-parent adoption law or foster care non-discrimination; there’s no law protecting youth from conversion therapy, no LGBTQ sex education law and no law to protect trans inclusion in sports. We also have no law for gender-neutral single occupancy restrooms, something that’s been catching on with more innovative states.
“Solidifying Equality” is the second-highest category in the index, behind “Working Toward Innovative Equality.” Thirteen states earned that ranking: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. The District of Columbia also made the cut.
Below “Solidifying Equality” is “Building Equality,” for states with basic LGBTQ protections, but a lack of anti-bullying and/or hate crime legislation, and a small number of anti-LGBTQ laws or legislation. The lowest category is “Highest Priority to Achieve Basic Equality,” or states that lack basic LGBTQ protections and have laws that criminalize or undermine equality. The majority of the states fall into this category, including Pennsylvania, which has adopted a religious refusal law, has HIV/AIDS criminalization on the books and is lacking in non-discrimination and hate crime laws protecting LGBTQ people.
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