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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 22, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 12
More than a name in common - The two Washingtons tie as America's most LGBT-friendly places
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More than a name in common - The two Washingtons tie as America's most LGBT-friendly places

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A new 'LGBT rights calculator' developed by CNN human rights columnist John D. Sutter shows Washington state tied with Washington, D.C., as the two most LGBT-friendly places in the country.

The 'calculator' rates states on the basis of a number of LGBT rights issues: same-sex couples have full marriage, adoption, and hospital visitation rights; LGBT residents enjoy anti-discrimination protection in housing; LGBT people are protected in municipal ordinances; LGBT-specific hate-crime and anti-bullying laws are on the books; there are no classroom restrictions; and unconstitutional sodomy laws have been repealed.

After the two Washingtons, which scored at the top on all counts, Iowa rated number three, and New York came in fourth. California, Connecticut, Oregon, and Vermont tied for fifth, and Illinois, Maine, and Maryland tied for ninth.

At the other end of the list, Alabama, Mississippi, and Oklahoma tied for dead last.

MORE LGBTs = BETTER LAWS
A Gallup survey released in February shows a correlation between density of self-identified LGBT residents and states with LGBT-friendly laws and local culture.

In Washington, D.C., for example, 10% of the population identifies as LGBT. Our Washington shows a 4% LGBT population. In a separate study, LGBT density in Seattle has been estimated at 12.9%, second only to San Francisco.

In contrast, Alabama and Mississippi show less than 3% LGBT residents, and Oklahoma shows 3.4%. North Dakota, which ranks 36th in the CNN survey, reports the lowest LGBT density, at only 1.7%.

In an explanation on the Gallup website, pollsters Gary Gates and Frank Newport speculate that LGBT people in conservative states may be less likely to be open about their sexual orientation, particularly with an anonymous pollster on the other end of the phone line.

'It is also possible that LGBT adults make conscious choices to reside in certain states rather than others,' they said, 'but this possibility is difficult to assess and seems less likely.'

A third possibility, which Gates and Newport do not discuss, is that a large and visible LGBT community is more powerful politically and more likely to be able to influence public policy and enact pro-LGBT laws.

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