Friday, January 23, 2015

Tennessee Scores Low On New HRC State Equality Index

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 10:55 AM


Tennessee is one of 32 states lacking state-level workplace protections for all LGBT employees, and it's one of 14 states that still doesn't allow same-sex marriage. Those issues led to Tennessee ranking in the lowest-performing category on the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) inaugural State Equality Index.

The national report, the first of its kind, looked at each state's LGBT-related legislation, and it highlights the fact that, although marriage equality is progressing nationally, many states still lack basic non-discrimination protections.

“Despite historic progress on issues like marriage equality, a majority of states still struggle to reach even a basic level of equality for LGBT people,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Most states lack statewide non-discrimination laws to protect LGBT people - putting countless individuals and families at risk, and creating inequalities in adoption and surrogacy, employments benefits, and youth safety and well-being.”

“Even worse,” Griffin said, “equality opponents continue to push deeply harmful laws forward, including those seeking to undermine critical protections in the guise of "religious liberty.”

The index assessed state legislation in the areas of relationship recognition, parenting laws and policies, non-discrimination laws, hate crimes laws, anti-bullying laws, and health and safety laws and policies. Based on that review, the index assigns states to one of four categories, and Tennessee, along with 29 other states, fell into the "High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality" category, the lowest-performing category in the study.

Tennessee scored well in the areas of joint adoption, hate crimes protection (but only for sexual orientation, not gender identity), and cyberbulling laws. The state received negative scores for its ban on same-sex marriage, the state religious freedom restoration act, restrictions on municipal protections for LGBT employees, HIV/AIDS criminalization laws, transgender exceptions in state Medicaid, and the fact that transgender citizens are not permitted to change their gender on state IDs (Tennessee is the only state that bans that).

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