Alex Blaze

LGBTQ progress since 2000

Filed By Alex Blaze | December 17, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: anti-discrimination, law, lesbian, LGBT, progress, sexual orientation

Matt Foreman, who works for the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr., Fund now, sent us this summary of the work that has been done in the past decade to advance that LGBTQ agenda. Looking at the diverse contacts at the bottom of the press release, you could call this Gay, Inc., patting itself on the back for the last ten years. And why not, we should consider how much things have changed since 2000.

There's a more extensive list of facts to wonk out on after the jump, but here's something I didn't know:

Safer Schools: In 2000, only one state had a safe school law that specifically cited sexual orientation and gender identity/expression for protection; by 2009 that rose to 13states. The number of Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs in high schools grew from 700 to 4,700, a nearly six-fold increase.

That's something for the future. My high school didn't have a GSA when I was there, but I heard several years ago that they had started one.

44.1% of the American population is covered by a state sexual orientation nondiscrimination law; 30% by a gender identity nondiscrimination law. They also count 445 openly LGBT elected officials.

What do you all think about LGBTQ progress this last decade? I don't know if the best way to measure progress is in terms of laws passed instead of metrics changed, but it's great that this information has been compiled.

Among the report's key measures of progress:

Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation: The number of states outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation increased 83 percent, from 12 to 22, between 2000 and 2009. The percentage of the U.S. population living in states banning discrimination based on sexual orientation soared from 24.5 percent to 44.1 percent, an 80 percent increase. In other words, today 134 million Americans are now living in states where discrimination based on sexual orientation has been outlawed, an increase of 65 million over the decade. (When local nondiscrimination laws passed by cities without statewide protections are included, the figure is over 50 percent of the U.S. population.) Fortune 500 companies that protect workers based on sexual orientation grew from 51 percent to 88 percent.

Discrimination Based on Gender Identity: There was an even more remarkable increase in states outlawing discrimination based on gender identity and expression, which rose from just 1state in the year 2000 to 14 states representing nearly 30 percent of the population in 2009. The percentage of Fortune 500 companies that protect workers based on gender identity jumped even more, from just 0.6 percent to 35 percent.

Relationship Recognition: Similarly exceptional gains were made in the area of family recognition. In 2000, no state extended the freedom to marry to same-sex couples; one state gave broad recognition to same-sex relationships and one offered limited recognition. Now in 2009, five states extend marriage to same-sex couples (with New Jersey and the District of Columbia pending at press time), six offer broad recognition, and seven offer more limited recognition. Overall, the number of Americans living in a state that offers some protections to same-sex couples nearly tripled, from 12.7 percent to 37.2 percent.

Protection from Violence: The 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act is the first federal law to specifically protect LGBT people.

LGBT Elected Officials: The number of openly LGBT elected officials in America rose 73 percent between 2000 and 2009, from 257 to 445.

Public Opinion: The percentage of the public supporting the right of openly gay and lesbian people to serve in the military grew from 62 percent to 75 percent. Support for marriage equality has grown from 35 percent in 2000 to 39 percent today; there has been an even larger increase in support for relationship recognition that involves many of the rights of marriage, from 45 to 57 percent.

Safer Schools: In 2000, only one state had a safe school law that specifically cited sexual orientation and gender identity/expression for protection; by 2009 that rose to 13states. The number of Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs in high schools grew from 700 to 4,700, a nearly six-fold increase.

The report also includes data on areas with mixed or negative results.

Marriage Opposition: In 2000, 5 states had blocked marriage equality through a statewide vote; today, 31 have done so, including 29 states amending their constitutions to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages.

Homophobia in schools. The percentage of LGBT students reporting hearing homophobic remarks in school has remained above 99 percent and LGBT students who report experiencing harassment in school edged up (up from 83.2 percent to 86.2 percent.)

HIV/AIDS: New HIV infections among adolescent and adult men who have sex with men grew 10 percent, from 28,000 to 30,800, as did the percentage of new HIV infections overall that occurred among men who have sex with men, which rose from 51 percent to 53 percent.

Military Service Ban: In spite of overwhelming public support for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the U.S. military continued to discharge hundreds of gay and lesbian service members, with the cumulative number of discharges under the 1993 policy nearly doubling during the past decade. The only "positive" note was that the number of annual discharges decreased from 1,241 in 2000 to 619 in 2008 (the most recent year for which data are available), apparently because of the urgent need for soldiers to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002.


Recent Entries Filed under The Movement:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


Well, there have been some definite improvements. I would like to see a similar report on how inclusion has changed within the movement. How many organizations have either taken on a newer more inclusive name or changed their written policies to reflect more inclusion.
PFLAG has made massive improvements in bi inclusion as have some other groups and organizations. Most GSAs seem to be very inclusive despite their name.

Thanks for sharing this data! It helps us keep our pulse on the discrimination that is still staring us in the face every day.

We MUST not look at these numbers as a good sign though. With 31 states discriminating on any part of what would make us equal under the law we are worse off than we were ten years ago.

Does that make sense? We have made serious gains - but states have written discrimination right into their constitutions - that says to us all we are not as equal as straights.

We need a term for this. Gaycist doesn't capture the same disgust as racist. I use the term bigot when I refer to anyone who would deny me an equal right - even my mother. My mother is a bigot. There is power in that - real power.

Matt Foreman | December 18, 2009 2:57 PM

Alex -

Thanks for summary. It's obviously not all good news and the difference between progress at the federal and state levels is profound.

The glass is not half full, but any means, and progress frequently feels excruciatingly slow. But looking from a wider/longer-term perspective, I believe our movement has accomplished more in a shorter period of time than any other social justice movement in the history of our nation - all against tremendous odds and most often with scarce resources. Is that good enough? Not at all. It is, however, a commentary on how hard change is to make happen.

I don't think we've made much progress towards equality, and we've lost our focus. Passing new "laws" does not add to our equality - it makes us a "protected class" and continues to portray us as "victims." Just as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not create equality or end racism - our obsession with "special protections" actually moves us further from real equality.

We don't have a "movement," we have an industry - the LGBT Equal Rights Industry. They're doing well, we're not. They also have us believing we're making progress - now, send another check.

We will be equal, when people believe we are. In that regard, some of the polling shows promise.

I don't think we've made much progress towards equality, and we've lost our focus. Passing new "laws" does not add to our equality - it makes us a "protected class" and continues to portray us as "victims."

Memo from those of us living in reality: We are.

Argument over.

Those of us living in reality win.

Living in "reality?" ALL we've accomplished is passing some laws that make us a "protected class." If you think creating a permanent definition of us as "needing protection" is progress, ask some Blacks how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has worked out for them. Did those "protections" end racism?

It is unfortunate when religious wing-nuts stigmatize us - but, it's much worse when we do it ourselves and then ignorantly call it progress.