The Decade In LGBT Rights

Matt Foreman, director of Gay and Immigrant Rights at the Evelyn & Walter Haas Fund, points us to a just-released report (PDF) called A Decade of Progress on LGBT Rights. The report is a joint project of Foreman’s group and the LGBT Movement Advancement Project (MAP). The extensive report lists the advancements and challenges in LGBT rights over the last ten years. Positive developments:

• Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation: The number of states outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation increased 83 percent, from 12 to 22, between 2000 and 2009. The percentage of the U.S. population living in states banning discrimination based on sexual orientation soared from 24.5 percent to 44.1 percent, an 80 percent increase. In other words, today 134 million Americans are now living in states where discrimination based on sexual orientation has been outlawed, an increase of 65 million over the decade. (When local nondiscrimination laws passed by cities without statewide protections are included, the figure is over 50 percent of the U.S. population.) Fortune 500 companies that protect workers based on sexual orientation grew from 51 percent to 88 percent.
• Discrimination Based on Gender Identity: There was an even more remarkable increase in states outlawing discrimination based on gender identity and expression, which rose from just 1state in the year 2000 to 14 states representing nearly 30 percent of the population in 2009. The percentage of Fortune 500 companies that protect workers based on gender identity jumped even more, from just 0.6 percent to 35 percent.
• Relationship Recognition: Similarly exceptional gains were made in the area of family recognition. In 2000, no state extended the freedom to marry to same-sex couples; one state gave broad recognition to same-sex relationships and one offered limited recognition. Now in 2009, five states extend marriage to same-sex couples (with New Jersey and the District of Columbia pending at press time), six offer broad recognition, and seven offer more limited recognition. Overall, the number of Americans living in a state that offers some protections to same-sex couples nearly tripled, from 12.7 percent to 37.2 percent.
• Protection from Violence: The 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act is the first federal law to specifically protect LGBT people.
• LGBT Elected Officials: The number of openly LGBT elected officials in America rose 73 percent between 2000 and 2009, from 257 to 445.
• Public Opinion: The percentage of the public supporting the right of openly gay and lesbian people to serve in the military grew from 62 percent to 75 percent. Support for marriage equality has grown from 35 percent in 2000 to 39 percent today; there has been an even larger increase in support for relationship recognition that involves many of the rights of marriage, from 45 to 57 percent.
• Safer Schools: In 2000, only one state had a safe school law that specifically cited sexual orientation and gender identity/expression for protection; by 2009 that rose to 13states. The number of Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs in high schools grew from 700 to 4,700, a nearly six-fold increase.

Negative developments include the successful movement to ban same-sex marriage in 31 states, the increased incidence of homophobic harassment in public schools, the rise in HIV rates, and the near-doubling of military expulsions due to DADT. Embiggen the image at the left for a numerical look at the overall state of the movement. MAP also provides an interactive overview of 12 critical LGBT issues tracked in each state.