Adam Polaski

Track the LGBT Movement with these Equality Maps!

Filed By Adam Polaski | August 02, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: civil rights map, LGBT equality, MAP, Movement Advancement Project, nondiscrimination

USEqualityMap.jpgThe Movement Advancement Project is releasing a full, 28-page "Momentum Report" that tracks the LGBT movement, analyzes the current state of affairs, and looks ahead to where we should focus next.

Until the report is released tonight at midnight, however, the organization has published a series of Equality Maps to visually display the state of the movement. A few days ago, I got frustrated trying to keep tabs on all of the different campaigns for LGBT rights in each of the states in the country. I wanted a map that showed me all of the current laws being disputed or proposed on both a state and federal level.

MAP's website is the answer to this need for visual representation of the movement. It shows an "Equality Snapshot" for each state, the size of LGBT populations, the number of openly LGBT public officials, and the states of legislation regarding relationship recognition, employment non-discrimination, housing non-discrimination, adoption, safe schools, hate crimes, and birth certificates.

A few numbers to give you a taste of the depth of information covered by MAP's efforts:

  • 158: The number of out public officials in California, the state with the most out public officials.
  • 14: The number of states (plus District of Columbia) ranked "High Equality."
  • 24: The number of states ranked "Low Equality."
  • 6.3%: The percentage of people who are LGBT in the population of Washington, D.C., the highest LGBT population density in the country. The highest statewide percentage is 3.1% in Maine and Vermont (based off U.S. Census numbers that only measured same-sex couples, not necessarily all LGBT people)
  • 35: The number of states that still lack employment non-discrimination laws that include gender identity. 6 states have employment non-discrimination laws that only cover sexual orientation, and 16 (including Washington, D.C.) have LGBT-inclusive employment non-discrimination laws.
  • 7: The number of states that effectively ban second-parent adoption. Only four states did so in 2001.

The interactive map is really impressive and will prove to be really useful as legislative battles really take off in full force in the next few years.

Update: This post has been updated since its original publication. The initial numbers published on August 2 by the Movement Advancement Project were not finalized. The statistics for the "High Equality" and "Low Equality" rankings have been modified.

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Adam I like the map you put it. It does help but it is far from an actual list of achievement and what is in practice. Thank you though!

Thanks! But to be clear, the map isn't my creation. Its produced by the team at the Movement Advancement Project.

It's good to learn where we are now and just how much further we need to go. The Project ought to make it easier to fight for a particular cause in a particular locale. Thanks, Adam.

It is truly remarkable how subtle transphobia and trans erasure within the LGBT movement can be.

The "Equality Map" gives states a check mark if they've enacted gay-only civil rights measures, and a check mark plus a "T" if they've enacted fully inclusive civil rights measures. In other words, they set up their graphics such that it's still a check mark and "mission accomplished" when trans people are left behind, like we're an optional extra credit sideline.

Om Kalthoum | August 3, 2011 2:33 AM

The check mark "Indicates a pro-LGB law or policy"
The check mark and T "Indicates a transgender-inclusive law"

What alternative method would you have used to allow a viewer to assess at a glance these legal situations?

In other words, they set up their graphics such that it's still a check mark and "mission accomplished" when trans people are left behind, like we're an optional extra credit sideline.

You look simply foolish claiming this intent on the part of the graphics designers and others involved in this project.

Justus Eisfeld Justus Eisfeld | August 3, 2011 4:56 AM

I agree with Desiree. In the current version, the +T does look like 'bonus-points'. The lack of trans inclusion in many measurements would have been much clearer to see if two checkmarks would have been used, one labeled LGB and the other one T. Instead now LGB is taken as the norm, and T as the departure from the norm.
Your personal attack ('you look foolish etc.') is totally uncalled for.

Rachel Bellum | August 3, 2011 5:34 AM

I read Desiree's comment before I saw the maps. One of the reasons I went to look at the maps (beyond the obvious) was because her description sounded bad and was pretty convincing.

When I actually looked at the maps, it didn't seem too bad to me. While I could see how some (perhaps many) people were going to interpret it, to me it just looked like they were trying to document that trans people aren't always or necessarily covered under existing non-discrimination laws (with ENDA type laws being a hotly debated case). I didn't see a much better way to do it with an "at-a-glance" type presentation.

Perhaps your (Justus's) suggestion would be an improvement. Maybe using two check marks (equal symbolism) would be better. But I worry that might imply that non-T inclusive laws are a natural step. Also the T is pretty easy to see and understand as you're glancing at the maps (although even here I bet some people would have preferred something else like a GI). I was enjoying the ease with which I could see where gender identity was protected.

Probably the best way would have been to use checkmarks only for completely inclusive laws, and some other symbol for those which only included LGB people. Having finally thought of this, it seems like the only fully acceptable way to do it. Maybe it's not too late to update the maps this way (hint hint to any people from MAP who read Bilerico).

An appropriate graphic design would have been a yellow G for gay rights only, a yellow T for trans rights only (except no such jurisdiction exists), and a green check mark for fully inclusive rights.

Presenting gay-only antidiscrimination laws as an unqualified check mark and trans-inclusive antidiscrimination laws as a secondary tag explicitly frames gay rights as a core issue and trans rights as a sidebar. It is also confusing, isofar as the legend provided by MAP does not make it at all clear whether a "Check + T" means trans rights only or both gay and trans rights.

Justus and Desiree, I have to say I'm personally offended by your assertion that Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals "are the norm" and Trans-persons are no more than some tag-along or afterthought. Moreover, the Transsexual and Transgender community in general - or should I say, their most vocal "advocates" - are in danger of losing my support because of this type of accusation. I'm an old, tired, cynical drag queen whose been fighting for the civil rights of ALL LGBT people and PWA's for 30+ years. I've marched, I've donated money and time, I've written letters to elected officials and newspapers, and spent ages in one-on-one situations with people attempting to advance our cause.
I work with three very diverse personalities - all male-to-female Transgender people, 2 post-surgery and one who is still in mid-transition. My employer's anti-discrimination/harassment policies include the ENTIRE community, and are rigorously enforced. The ladies I work with are my friends, and I have supported and comforted them these last five years as they worked through the physical and emotional battles of their transition. When I read comments like yours and Desiree's I get offended and angry.
No, I don't know you personally and I have no idea what either of you have experienced in your lives to bring you to this opinion. To make a judgement on this would be as foolish of me, as it is to make judgements that the LGBT community - as a whole - thinks of the T part as some red-headed stepchild, when it thinks of the T at all. Yes, the exclusion of Trans persons from ENDA was a disgrace and I'm still pissed about that. Yes, we still have a long, hard, and sometimes bloody battle to bring the Trans portion of our community up to the same level of... whatever it is the LGB portion has, I'm not exactly sure what to call it but "equality" aint it.
And before I listen to anymore talk about civil rights abuses, please keep in mind that I've been arrested for "creating a public disturbance" while marching - in the June heat, in Omaha Nebraska, and in FULL DRAG - in protest of the state government's policies on safer sex education. What I went through in that county jail was tantamount to sexual assault, if not a flat-out rape. Everyone else who was arrested was processed and out of jail in under two hours. But we drag queens spent 24 hours in hell, with no legal recourse - keep in mind that this was 1997 - to gain justice for the abuse we endured. I've lost jobs, and been threatened with termination, lost apartments and been denied them, been ostracized by my family for decades (with the exception of my own daughters and grandkids), and been attacked on multiple occasions when the police (in all but one case) essentially said I'd gotten what I "deserved." Now, maybe, you understand why I get so angry when I read/hear these kinds of comments.
We have lost a lot of the unity and cooperative spirit we had during the height of the AIDS movement, and I deeply regret that. It's been my experience over the past three decades that the LGBT community is full of people who are 2/3 ferret - short attention spans, overly acquisitive, and easily distracted by shiny objects - and, like ferrets, one has to work VERY hard to keep their attention focused in the right direction. You can trust me on this... 32 years in the trenches, and I've been owned by 3 ferrets (innumerable cats, 12 dogs, 2 horses... gods, I'm such a sucker for 4 legged and furry critters... probably explains a couple of ex's).
So here's my suggestion: instead of wasting all this energy making accusations back and forth, why don't we take a lesson from the past. Put our differences and variances aside, and work together for the common good. I'm old, and I'm tired - frankly, I just don't have the energy to listen to all the carping from both sides on this. It reminds me of my daughters and their constant wars of attrition - then as now, I have an overwhelming urge to grab both sides by the hair and bang their heads together until they come to their senses. Now, if you'll excuse me I'll shut up and get back to my coffee. I've had far too little of it to be waxing philosophical at 8:15 AM.

Um, perhaps reading their comments more closely - or reading them at all - might be helpful. They say nothing of the sort. Quite the opposite, in fact.

"Yes, the exclusion of Trans persons from ENDA was a disgrace and I'm still pissed about that. Yes, we still have a long, hard, and sometimes bloody battle to bring the Trans portion of our community up to the same level of... whatever it is the LGB portion has, I'm not exactly sure what to call it but "equality" aint it."

But...bringing this (and the utter lack of attention it and other issues of erasure seems to get from the LGB) up is enough to put us "in danger of losing my support". Because these things that happened to Trans people/right by gay people/groups isn't really important? didn't really do serious damage to trans people?

Why I have never met a trans woman who didn't think that gay men were (generally) less understanding and less supportive than their straight counterparts? Why did trans legal advances stall the second the LGB(t) groups took over our advocacy when we were getting laws passed in the most conservative states at a time when gay folks HAD to be closeted?

rather than threaten to take away your support, how about listen to the frustration of apparently being a "LGB" right bonus (again) and take that to your part of the movement and try to make sure others are aware and and not make the same mistake? That seems to be what an ally would do.

Rick Elliott | August 3, 2011 2:36 AM

I'm mindful of the issues we face as a community. But--I wonder if we're being sidetracked away from the political debacle perpetrated on us by buying and selling of government statewide and nationally. Our senses have been made keener by the discrimination we face. Can we summon the same righteous energy we spend on DADT and equality. Somebody needs to declare the evil being perpetrated on the American people.

The thing about maps is, you have to know where you're coming from in order to chart a course to where you're going. Here it is. Destination, Equality!

Justus Eisfeld Justus Eisfeld | August 3, 2011 5:05 AM

Another item that I feel is not adequately addressed are the human rights abuses that trans people have to submit to in order to get a birth certificate. Just being able to get one is simply not good enough when you have to prove all kinds of surgery on the way, effectively excluding the majority of trans people from access to new birth certificates.