Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Leaning Forward and Then Some

LGBT Percentages Highest in Washington, DC, and Hawaii

Unprecedented study estimates LGBT population in every state in the nation

The percentage of adults in the United States who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) ranges from 1.7% in North Dakota to 5.1% in Hawaii and 10% in the District of Columbia, according to findings from a new study released by Williams Institute Distinguished Scholar, Gary J. Gates, and Gallup Editor-in-Chief, Frank Newport. The study is the largest population-based survey ever conducted that includes measurement of LGBT identification. Most states are within 2 percentage points of the nationwide average of 3.5%. The Natural State came in at around the 3.5% mark which is cited as a nationwide avearge. According to full analysis, over 2,165 interviews were done to reach this conclusion. These results are based on responses to the question, "Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?" included in 206,186 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted between June 1 and Dec. 30, 2012. This is the largest single study of the distribution of the LGBT population in the U.S. on record, and the first time a study has had large enough sample sizes to provide estimates of the LGBT population by state.

While LGBT communities are clearly present in every state in the union, their visibility is generally higher in states with greater levels of social acceptance and LGBT supportive legal climates, according to the new study. COP 24/7 hasn't unpacked all of the survey results as yet, but find them an interesting snapshot of informatoin that could be used as source data in variety of means.

Gates said of the study, “These new first-of-their-kind estimates of the percentage of adults who self-identify as LGBT in all 50 states and the District of Columbia constitute a significant advancement in our understanding of the LGBT population.” More than 206,000 adult Americans were surveyed for this study so that 41 of the 50 states have underlying samples exceeding 1,000.

The study found that states with proportionally larger LGBT populations tend to have supportive LGBT legal climates. With the exception of South Dakota, each of the states with populations 4 percent and over has laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These states have also taken steps toward more LBGT equality by recognizing same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. Iowa is the only state among those with the lowest LGBT populations to extend similar rights. In fact, six of the ten states with the lowest LGBT populations are among the most conservative states in the country.

Click here for the report page.

Pentagon Extends Additional Benefits to Gay and Lesbian Service Members and Their Families by Dan Rafter, Online Campaigns Manager

HRC is praising the Pentagon's announcement that it would extend a slate of equal benefits to lesbian and gay service members and their families over the coming months. Believed to be the final policy move of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's tenure, this announcement guarantees some, but not all, of the benefits the Pentagon currently provides to the families of straight military personnel. Though this is a meaningful step forward, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still prevents gay and lesbian military families from enjoying full equality.

HRC President Chad Griffin issued the following statement:

"Today, the Pentagon took a historic step forward toward righting the wrong of inequality in our armed forces, but there is still more work to be done. Gay and lesbian service members and their families make sacrifices every day, and this country owes them every measure of support we can provide. Since the repeal of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell,’ the Obama administration has shown true leadership on this issue. But even today, the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act makes inequality for gay and lesbian military families a legal requirement.

It's time to right this wrong. When the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of DOMA in the coming weeks, they should take note of the real harm this law inflicts every day. The Court should reflect on the sacrifice made by Americans like Staff Sergeant Tracy Johnson, whose wife was killed in action late last year, or the family of Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, who succumbed to cancer earlier this week. In both cases, DOMA barred specific benefits that could soften the tragic blow of the loss of a loved one. The Court should strike down this hateful law once and for all so that this country can finally guarantee full equality for all who serve."

In announcing the changes, Defense Secretary Leon Penetta affirmed that discrimination based on sexual orientation had no place in the military:

"Taking care of our service members and honoring the sacrifices of all military families are two core values of this nation. Extending these benefits is an appropriate next step under current law to ensure that all service members receive equal support for what they do to protect this nation."
The DOD's full memorandum can be read at http://www.defense.gov/news/Same-SexBenefitsMemo.pdf.

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