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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 5, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 06
Washington wins top scores in HRC's State Equality Index
Section One
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Washington wins top scores in HRC's State Equality Index

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Washington state won top scores in HRC's new State Equality Index (SEI).

The new state-by-state rankings, released this month, rate states according to their legislation and policies, good and bad, in five areas: parenting laws and policies; nondiscrimination laws; hate crimes laws; youth-related laws and policies; and health and safety laws and policies.

Based on that review, the SEI assigns states to one of four categories. Washington falls into the top category, along with five other states and the District of Columbia.

That category, titled 'Working Toward Innovative Equality,' means that our state is recognized for its 'robust LGBT nondiscrimination laws covering employment, housing, and public accommodations, as well as protections in the realm of credit, insurance, and jury selection.'

Also included in HRC's top category are states with laws allowing Transgender people to change official documents to reflect their gender identity and rules barring private insurers from excluding transition-related healthcare.

Anti-bullying laws protecting LGBT youth also qualify state for HRC's top rating, as do innovative measures in some states that address conversion therapy, inclusive juvenile justice policies, homelessness, and sex education.

Besides Washington state, the top spots in HRC's survey went to California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Oregon, and the District of Columbia.

Five other states qualified for the second category, 'Solidifying Equality': Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. HRC found that these states have all basic legal protections in place but are 'not cutting edge on LGBT equality.'

Ten states fell in the third category, 'Building Equality,' and the remaining 28 states were categorized as having a 'High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality.'

Among the holes in Washington state law, HRC noted a lack of protections from conversion therapy and a lack of LGBT-inclusive juvenile justice policies.

The ratings also take into account attempts to roll back equality through measures like religious exemptions and so-called 'religious freedom restoration' bills. So far, none of these proposals have been enacted in Washington.

HRC looked at laws through the end of 2015, and so the six anti-Trans 'bathroom bills' now pending in the state legislature will be evaluated in next year's report.

The full State Equality Index can be found at HRC's website: www.hrc.org

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