STUDY: LGBT Equality on Right Track, But Not There Yet

By Kevin OKeeffe

Originally published on Advocate.com January 28 2014 2:38 PM ET

The past two years have seen major changes in some fundamental rights for LGBT Americans. But just how much better off is Gay USA in 2014 than it was just two dozen months ago?

A new report by Denver-based think tank the Movement Advancement Project, the 2014 Momentum Report, evaluates the past two years’ progress for LGBT rights in America. While 2012 and 2013 brought huge gains in the battle for marriage equality, including 11 new states establishing equality and the Supreme Court striking down a key section of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, other areas have seen slower growth.

Regarding bullying in schools, the report finds that although a 2012 survey from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network indicated a decrease in “levels of biased language and victimization” among high school students, there have been no safe-schools laws passed in any new states in the past two years. Just 19 states and Washington, D.C., have safe-school legislation currently in place.

The progress of nondiscrimination laws has also been something of a mixed bag, the report notes. While the U.S. Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (the House has yet to vote on it), similar efforts in six different states failed to move forward in the past two years, “leaving 29 states without laws protecting LGBT workers.”

MAP's report notes that for more than 400,000 children living in foster care in the U.S., the sluggish progress toward equal adoption rights for LGBT families is too slow. “In fact,” the report says, “the only real progress on these issues in the last two years happened when four states advanced parenting rights for same-sex couples as a corollary of advancing broader marriage or comprehensive relationship recognition laws.”

The overall tone of the report — the fourth of its kind since 2007 — is one of cautious optimism; while progress is being made for LGBT Americans, a long journey remains.

“The last two years have brought many landmark advances, driving a media narrative and public perception that LGBT advocates have succeeded and their work is nearly done,” the report summarizes. “But for an LGBT person living in Alabama, nothing could be further from the truth.”

The full report is available for download here.