Despite Stunning Marriage Victories, LGBT Americans Remain Unequal
MAP’s 2014 Momentum Report Finds Mixed and Often Stalled Progress in Critical Areas
Denver, January 7, 2015—From stunning wins for the freedom to marry to Medicare’s lifting of the exclusion of coverage for transgender-specific healthcare, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans made gains on many fronts in 2014. However, despite these advances, deep disparities remain, including an overwhelming lack of employment nondiscrimination protections, high rates of healthcare discrimination, poorer overall health, and poorer well-being.
The Movement Advancement Project’s (MAP) newly released 2014 Momentum Report: A Snapshot of Progress and Setbacks for LGBT Equality examines some of the highlights and lowlights in the journey towards LGBT equality over the past year. The report examines marriage, health, transgender equality, and other areas of progress—and also provides an overview of some of the biggest remaining gaps in equality. The report contains a timeline of some of the important events that occurred throughout the year.
“At this time, LGBT people must navigate an unpredictable and nonsensical legal landscape. Same-sex couples can now marry in over a dozen states that otherwise lack almost any kind of other legal equality for LGBT people,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of MAP. “What this means is that a worker can get married over the weekend, then be fired on Monday because of his or her sexual orientation. Meanwhile, in over 30 states, a person can be denied service in a restaurant or denied housing because they are transgender.”
At the end of 2014, 14 states had marriage equality and no state-level protections from discrimination: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Among the report’s findings:
- The total number of states extending marriage to same-sex couples doubled in 2014, from 17 states plus D.C. at the end of 2013 to 35 states plus D.C. at the end of 2014. The percentage of same-sex couples with the freedom to marry rose from 42% at the end of 2013 to 71% at the end of 2014.
- The federal government announced that it would recognize the marriages of all couples married in states that offer the freedom to marry and the Department of Justice released a comprehensive list of the federal programs and agencies that extend the rights and responsibilities granted through marriage to legally married same-sex couples.
- The percent of LGBT people lacking health insurance dropped as millions signed up for insurance offered under the Affordable Care Act.
- Medicare’s ban on coverage of transgender-specific healthcare was lifted, and the federal government lifted the exclusion on coverage for transgender-specific medical care for its employees.
- The Food and Drug Administration shortened the ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood to twelve months after having sex with a man
- The U.S. Department of Education issued guidance confirming that the federal prohibition against sex discrimination in education protects transgender students. In April, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance confirming that the federal prohibition against sex discrimination in education protects transgender students. Several states and local jurisdictions also took strong steps to protect transgender students in 2014.
- Transgender service members are still not permitted to serve openly. In 2014, several public figures, including former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, spoke about the need to update military regulations to allow open service by transgender people.
- States and local jurisdictions continue to ease the process for changing gender markers on one’s birth certificate.
- LGBT people of color rose to several important federal positions, including judicial appointments.
- Many lesbian, gay, and bisexual elected officials were re-elected. Massachusetts elected the first openly lesbian attorney general in the United States, Maura Healey.
- 2014 was a year of heightened visibility for transgender people in popular culture. Actress Laverne Cox appeared on the cover of Time magazine in May 2014 and in November was declared one of Glamour’s Women of the Year.
- Michael Sam came out as an openly gay college football player and became the first openly gay player to be drafted to the NFL.
- Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, came out as gay in October, becoming one the most powerful openly gay business leaders in the world.
The Movement Advancement Project is an independent think tank that provides rigorous research, insight and analysis that help speed equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.