Understanding Issues Facing LGBT People in the U.S.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, MAP, in partnership with the Center for American Progress, GLAAD, and the Human Rights Campaign, is releasing an updated edition of Understanding Issues Facing LGBT People in the U.S. Led by transgender women, drag queens, homeless LGBT teens, lesbians, gay men, and allies, many of whom were people of color, the Stonewall Riots, which came in response to an early morning police raid of the Stonewall Inn in New York City targeting LGBT people, were a key turning point in the fight for LGBT equality in the United States.    

Fifty years later, much has been accomplished, yet much still remains to be done. The landmark marriage equality ruling by the United States Supreme Court in 2015 allowed same-sex couples to marry nationwide, yet the federal government is arguing that employers should be allowed to legally fire LGBT people, and that adoption agencies should be able to keep kids in foster care rather than allow them to be adopted by qualified, loving, same-sex parents.   

This primer highlights the major areas in which equality as advanced for LGBT people, as well as the continued legal barriers to fully participating in American life. It is no longer a crime to be gay, yet many LGBT people still experience discrimination when simply going about their daily lives—whether eating at a diner with their families or friends, trying to obtain safe and inclusive healthcare, or interacting with the criminal justice system. Just last month, MAP released a new map showing which states ban the use of so-called “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses in court. These defenses are legal strategies in which a person who has committed a violent crime against an LGBT person will claim that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity caused the attacker to commit the crime. 

As we honor the passion and activism of those at Stonewall 50 years ago and those who continue to fight for full equality to this day, MAP is fully committed to ensuring that all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life.  

Here are a few ways you can take action:  

LGBT Policy Spotlight: LGBT Equality in the U.S. Territories

The United States’ long history of territorial expansion has resulted in a truly complicated system of governance for territory residents, where even the U.S. Constitution doesn’t always apply. Laws and policies across the U.S. are, at best, a confusing patchwork of legal protections, and nowhere is that truer than for the residents of the U.S. territories, as detailed in the first comprehensive review of LGBT laws and policies in the five populated U.S. territories.  

Today, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), in partnership with Lambda Legal, released a new report, LGBT Policy Spotlight: LGBT Equality in the U.S. Territories, focused on the status of LGBT equality for the more than 3.5 million residents of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

For more than 10 years, MAP has tracked state-level LGBT laws and policies across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. With the release of this report, MAP is now actively tracking LGBT-related laws and policies in the five populated U.S. territories. The Equality Maps can be found here: http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps.  

MAP classifies various laws and policies that impact LGBT people into two broad categories: sexual orientation-related laws and policies, and gender identity-related laws and policies. Examined together, these polices are combined to calculate an “Overall Policy Tally,” which counts the number of positive LGBT laws and policies, as well as negative laws and the policies, in each territory or state that help drive equality for LGBT people. 

  • Puerto Rico has the highest overall LGBT policy tally of the five territories (21.75 out of a potential 40.5) as well as the highest sexual orientation policy tally (11.5/20) and gender identity policy tally (10.25/20.5). Based on its LGBT-related laws and policies, Puerto Rico has a similar overall LGBT policy tally as Delaware and Maine.  
  • Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands all have a “low” LGBT policy tally.  American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands fall between North Dakota, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina (0.5/40.5), while the U.S. Virgin Islands (5.5/40.5) falls between Arizona and Kentucky. Guam (7/40.5) falls between Kentucky and Indiana.  
  • Guam has a “medium” sexual orientation policy tally identical to that of Pennsylvania and Michigan, while the other three territories have “low” sexual orientation policy tallies. Notably, both Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands have “negative” gender identity policy tallies similar to Arizona and Alabama, respectively. American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands have “low” gender identity policy tallies. 

In addition, the report looks at seven broad categories including relationship and parental recognition, non-discrimination laws, LGBT youth laws and policies, healthcare laws and policies, criminal justice laws, and accurate identity documents. Within these categories, the report reviews the more than 39 laws and policies that impact LGBT people and their families.  

By tracking LGBT laws and policies in the territories, MAP will advance increased understanding of the territories as a whole, and of LGBT equality within these regions. 

TAKE ACTION:  

NEW REPORT: Where We Call Home: LGBT People in Rural America

Popular culture images of LGBT people suggest that most LGBT people live in cities or on the coasts. Yet 2.9 – 3.8 million LGBT people call rural America home.

Today, the Movement Advancement Project released a new report, Where We Call Home: LGBT People in Rural America, which examines the structural differences in rural life and their unique impact on LGBT people in rural areas, who are both more vulnerable to discrimination and less able to respond to its harmful effects. Among other challenges, rural LGBT people are less likely to have explicit nondiscrimination protections, are more likely to live in areas with religious exemption laws that may allow service providers to discriminate, and have fewer alternatives when facing discrimination, as detailed in a new report released today.

Click here to read the exclusive USA Today article about the report.

Although LGBT people in rural areas face many of the same challenges as their neighbors, they experience different consequences, and the many structural challenges of living in rural communities can often amplify LGBT people’s experiences of both acceptance and rejection. The report findings include that:

  • The interconnectedness of rural communities leads to ripple effectsacross many aspects of life. For example, if a person is excluded from their faith community for being gay, they may have a difficult time at work or finding a job, because their church members may also be their coworkers or potential employers. Conversely, if a rural church community or employer takes a supportive stand for local LGBT residents, that support can also ripple outward to other areas of life.
  • When LGBT people (and particularly LGBT people of color) in rural areas do face discrimination, they may have no or fewer alternatives to find a restaurant, doctor, job, home, faith community, and more. And, more service providers in rural areas are religiously-affiliated and are covered under religious exemption laws that may allow them to discriminate, even when providing public services.
  • LGBT people in rural areas are more vulnerable to discrimination. Rural areas are more likely to lack explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people and more likely to have laws allowing religious service providers to turn LGBT people away.

Click here to view infographics pulled from Where We Call Home: LGBT People in Rural America

LGBT people live in rural areas for the same reasons as other people, such as love of family, the strength of tight-knit rural communities, and connection to the land. However, the social and political landscape of rural America means that rural LGBT people are more vulnerable to discrimination. This is why nondiscrimination laws are vital, so that rural LGBT people don’t have to choose between basic protections and the place they call home.

The report is released in partnership with the Equality Federation, the National Black Justice Coalition, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

TAKE ACTION:

NEW REPORT: A Prescription for Disaster

MAP is sounding the alarm. Did you know there is a coordinated and widespread push to pass a variety of religious exemptions laws that would give medical professionals a license to discriminate against their patients? The Trump Administration, in particular, has made a dramatic effort to insert religious refusals into peoples’ health care. Earlier this year, the Administration’s announced a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Department of Health and Human Services, and 

proposed rules that seek to radically expand the ability of health care providers and institutions to deny patients care based on religious or moral beliefs. And tomorrow, March 27, the comment period this dangerous new proposed rule closes. Click here to share your story with the Trump Administration and let them know that personal beliefs should never override patient care.

These religious refusal laws are undermining the very foundation of our medical system, which should be to put patients first and to do no harm.

To bring attention to the coordinated strategy to insert religious refusals into the health care of millions of people, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and the National Center for Transgender Equality released a new report, Religious Refusals in Health Care: A Prescription for Disaster. This new report examines the impact of religious refusals on people’s health and wellbeing, and showcases the broad and dangerous implications of these refusals on LGBT people, women, people of color, low-income people, religious minorities, and more.

What can happen when health providers are able to refuse treatment and choose which patients they wish to serve?

  • Creating a health care system when patients’ health comes second to health care providers’ personal beliefs.
  • Restricting access to a wide range of reproductive health care, including emergency care.
  • Allowing healthcare providers to limit information shared with patients
  • Refusing health care for patients because of who they are, including women, transgender people, LGBT people, and children of LGBT parents.
  • Permitting refusals of care for sexual health, including sexually-transmitted infection and HIV-related health care.

Click here to learn more about how religious refusals are comprising patient health: Religious Refusals in Health Care: A Prescription for Disaster

New Report: Public Accommodations Nondiscrimination Laws

Yesterday, the Movement Advancement Project, along with our partners at the Equality Federation Institute, Freedom for All Americans, and the National Center for Transgender Equality launched a new report, LGBT Policy Spotlight: Public Accommodations Nondiscrimination Laws. This report provides a comprehensive overview of the gaps in nondiscrimination laws for LGBT people in public spaces—and the devastating impact of the lack of protections.

Among key findings in this report:

  • Anti-LGBT discrimination remains widespread. In 2016, at least one in four LGBT people experienced discrimination in public accommodations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2015, nearly one-third of transgender people experienced discrimination in places of public accommodations when staff knew or thought they were transgender.
  • The existing patchwork of protections leaves LGBT people vulnerable to discrimination. Currently, no federal law prohibits discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Only nineteen states and Washington D.C. have laws protecting people from discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex, leaving LGBT people in 31 states at risk for legal discrimination.
  • Opponents have launched coordinated attacks on the ability of LGBT people to participate fully in public life. The report details four distinct strategies: bathroom bans that would limit transgender people’s access to restrooms; ballot measures to repeal nondiscrimination protections; state preemption of cities and counties prohibiting them from enacting local ordinances; and, creating religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws. These efforts are part of a larger attempt to create a license to discriminate.
  • There is broad public and business support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. In a 2017 PRRI poll, 72% of Americans said they support laws that protect LGBT from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. A 2017 Small Business Majority poll similarly found that 65% of business owners agree that businesses should not be allowed to deny service to LGBT people because of religious beliefs.

This report has already garnered significant attention in the media, showing the resonance and importance of these findings:

As the Supreme Court prepares to issue a ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, public places have become the next battleground in the fight for full equality for LGBT people. The core issue is whether public accommodations—places of business, public transit, hotels, restaurants, taxi cabs and more—can refuse service to people just because of who they are or whom they love.

As a nation, we decided a long time ago that businesses and services that are open to the public should be open to all. Nobody should be turned away simply because of who they are.

Help MAP spread the word about the critical need for nondiscrimination protections in public places for LGBT people. Donate here, or take action on social media!

2017 National Movement Report

2017 National Movement Report

In December, 2017 MAP released the 2017 National Movement Report, which provides a comprehensive and standardized look at LGBT movement’s finances across 39 major LGBT organizations.

Revenue is up slightly and donations are increasing, perhaps as donors seek opportunities to respond to the new political climate. The report also finds that, at the end of the 2016 fiscal year, the participating organizations overall remain stable, efficient, and supported by a diverse range of revenue sources.

Check out the great media coverage: