LGBTQ Equality Maps Updates: March 2021

For more than 12 years, MAP has been tracking 40+ laws and policies through our LGBTQ Equality Maps. The maps show that differences in legal equality for LGBTQ people vary widely from state-to-state, and even city to city. This patchwork of laws means that LGBTQ people may have strong legal protections in one state, while their LGBTQ counterparts in a neighboring state face only hostile or negative laws.

Our interactive LGBTQ Equality Maps provide a comprehensive look at the current state of laws and policies impacting LGBTQ people across the country. The Equality Maps offer a state-by-state comparison of the policy landscape for LGBTQ people and the gaps in protections across the United States.

We update the Equality Maps in real-time, illustrating the regularly-changing landscape across the country. To keep you updated, we’re excited to share changes that have happened so far in 2021.

The Current State of Nondiscrimination Across the Country

As of March 1, 2021, twenty-one states and Washington D.C fully and explicitly prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

Two additional states, Utah and Wisconsin, have partial protections. Additionally, at least 330 municipalities in states without statewide protections have local ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in these areas. Dozens more municipalities partial protections, such as only for sexual orientation, or for both sexual orientation and gender identity but only in housing.

Important Updates in the States

Allowing transgender and nonbinary people to obtain accurate identity documents:

  • Both Hawai`i and Virginia have further improved their process for changing the gender marker on a driver’s license. Formerly, these states had an easy-to-understand form for updating a gender marker, though it required certification from a provider such as a doctor, social worker, or therapist. Now, both states have eliminated the provider certification requirement, and people only need to use the same form as they would for any other new or replacement license. Both states already offer a gender-neutral “X” option on driver’s licenses.
  • A federal judge ruled that Alabama’s policy, which required transgender people to present proof of gender-confirming surgery, was unconstitutional.

Banning “gay panic” or “trans panic” defenses:

  • On December 15, 2020, the District of Columbia voted to ban the use of these panic defenses. The bill was approved by the Mayor in January 2021, and then sent to Congress for approval in February. The expected effective date of the law is June 8, 2021.
  • In February, Virginia’s legislature also voted to ban the use of panic defenses, and the bill is now on its way to the Governor’s desk. If signed into law, Virginia will be the 13th state to ban the practice.

Advances in Local Communities to Prohibit Discrimination

Local cities and counties continue to advance vital nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. For example, just in the past few months:

  • Major advances for equality in North Carolina: In December 2020, provisions of North Carolina’s HB142 — the state’s follow-up to its earlier and nationally criticized HB2 — expired, finally allowing cities in North Carolina to pass local ordinances of their own. As a result, at least six cities and counties throughout the state passed LGBTQ-inclusive local nondiscrimination ordinances. Check out the North Carolina state policy profile for a full listing.
  • Keyser, West Virginia: passed the first LGBTQ-inclusive ordinance in Mineral County.
  • Monessen, Pennsylvania: passed the first LGBTQ-inclusive ordinance in Westmoreland County.

Local communities are also working to ban the discredited and harmful practice of conversion “therapy,” including these just in the past few months:

  • Robbinsdale, Minnesota
  • Lincoln, Nebraska: first conversion “therapy” ban in the state

As progress for equality unfolds unevenly across the country and across different areas of law, know that MAP will keep you informed of both policy accomplishments and challenges facing LGBTQ people in the United States.

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Movement Advancement Project

MAP is an independent, nonprofit think tank that provides rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all.