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New York Among Best States for LGBTQ Protections in Human Rights Index but it says Fed Law is Needed

A national equal-rights organization finds New York is one of the best states in the nation for protecting the rights of LGBTQ people and their families.  A new report shows how laws that limit discrimination and bias vary around the nation.

The Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation Institute released their State Equality Index.  New York State falls into a category they call “Working Toward Innovative Equality”, with laws or policies protecting LGBTQ citizens in 10 separate areas. 

Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow says, however, depending on where you live, these protections are not widely guaranteed.

“It can be dramatically different for someone living in New York compared to someone who’s living in Mississippi.  You can have a great neighborhood, maybe even a great boss who doesn’t care about your sexual orientation or your gender identity.  But let’s say that boss ends up changing.  You could have someone come in who’s hostile to you and in New York, you’re going to be able to address that hostile environment.  In other states, that isn’t going to be an option for you.” 

People who identify as LGBTQ still remain at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services in 30 states currently. Warbelow adds this should not have to be the norm for people who have to consider whether they feel comfortable in places they call home.

“Many Americans either can’t or don’t want to leave their homes that they grew up in.  And they shouldn’t have to make that choice simply because of a lack of legal protection.”

The State Equality Index measures statewide LGBTQ related laws and policies in areas such as: parenting rights, relationship recognition laws, non-discrimination policies, hate crime and criminal justice laws, and protections for health and safety services.  Warbelow details how Federal legislation might even things out.

“Having a federal law that provides protections is absolutely critical.  We have been working with members of Congress to support the Equality Act.  It is an amendment to our basic civil rights laws that would ensure, regardless of where you live, that you would be guaranteed discrimination protections in employment, in housing, in education.”

Nondiscrimination LGBTQ state and federal laws are supported by a rising number of Americans.  A recent Public Religion Research Institute Survey states that 71 percent of Americans now support passing LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws, such as the Equality Act.            

This story was updated to correct copy. 

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.