The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation and the Equality Federation Institute released their fifth annual State Equality Index ( SEI )a comprehensive report detailing statewide laws and policies that affect LGBTQ people and their families, and assessing how well states are protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.
This year, the number of states that obtained the SEI's highest rating, "Working Toward Innovative Equality," increased from 13 to 17. These statesincluding Illinoiscurrently have what are considerred robust LGBTQ non-discrimination laws covering employment, housing and public accommodations, as well as protections in the areas of credit and insurance.
Twenty-eight states are in the lowest-rated category, "High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality." Among them are Alaska, Indiana, Alabama, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia and the Carolinas.
The other categories are "Solidifying Equality" and "Building Equality."
This SEI report comes as more than 46 state legislatures have opened their sessionsand with New York kicking off the year on a tremendous note by passing both the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act ( GENDA ) and legislation protecting LGBTQ youth in the state from the dangerous and debunked practice of so-called "conversion therapy."
The full report is at www.hrc.org/campaigns/state-equality-index .