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Momentum Report

The Bottom Line

MAP's biennial Momentum Report tracks indicators of the LGBT movement's success in the pursuit of legal and social equality for LGBT Americans. The 2014 report details the LGBT movement's incredible recent advances in gaining the freedom to marry, the work left to be done, and the relatively slow progress in other areas of LGBT equality. A snapshot of progress is offered across nine different areas including marriage and relationship recognition; employment nondiscrimination; parental recognition and adoption laws; immigration and travel; safe schools and anti-bullying laws; hate crimes; health and HIV/AIDS; identity documents; and public service and cultural visibility.

Abstract

The 2014 edition of MAP's Momentum Report, produced biennially since 2007, documents and analyzes the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement's success in securing political, legal, and social equality for LGBT Americans in 2012 and 2013.

There is no doubt that the last two years marked a historic turning point. Since January 2012, the number of states allowing same-sex couples to marry almost tripled, growing from six states to 17 states, now covering 42% of the LGBT population. Additionally, in June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, requiring the federal government to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. This ruling has spurred a flurry of state lawsuits.

This unprecedented progress on marriage has led to a widespread impression that nationwide equality for LGBT people is imminent. A closer look at the full range of LGBT rights at all levels of American society, however, reveals a different picture. While the past two years have shown incredible gains toward securing the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, the LGBT movement still has a long way to go to achieve full equality and broad acceptance for LGBT people across the nation.

The states that have secured marriage equality have been on a years-long journey. Before marriage became legal in these states, they had all already passed employment protections, hate crime protections, safe schools legislation (at least on the basis of sexual orientation), and engaged in the public debate and education that comes with such laws. Yet in stark contrast to the states that currently allow same-sex couples to marry, the majority of states are still at the very early stages of this journey. This means further gains at the state level on other issues of importance to the LGBT movement - from prohibiting discrimination against LGBT workers to addressing bullying of LGBT students in schools - have much further to go. In fact, over half of U.S. states lack even the more basic laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

The 2014 Momentum Report finds that the LGBT movement and its allies still have a significant amount of work to do to change the culture, build broader social acceptance, and advance the cause of equality. Looking forward, LGBT Americans may continue to see more advances on the issue of marriage in the coming months and years, especially if pending court challenges are successful. However, there are many states still at the beginning of their journeys toward creating the legal, political, and social climate that would make full equality possible. If America is a nation that truly believes all people are created equal, the next challenge is for those states that continue to treat their LGBT population as second-class citizens to join in the journey toward acceptance and true equality.

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