HRC, EFI 2020 State Equality Index

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the Equality Federation Institute have released their 7th annual State Equality Index (SEI).

The SEI is a comprehensive report that details statewide laws and policies that affect LGBTQ individuals and their families and assesses how well states are protecting LGBTQ individuals from discrimination. This year, 19 states and Washington, D.C. were recognized in the SEI for prioritizing innovative measures to advance LGBTQ equality, with Hawaii and New Hampshire joining those in the top category for the first time. These states have LGBTQ non-discrimination laws covering employment, housing and public accommodations.

Categories include “Working Toward Innovative Equality,” “Solidifying Equality,” “Building Equality” and “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality.”

“The 2020 legislative session was one of the most unusual in recent memory, given the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite the shortened sessions in many states, we saw multiple states pass pro-equality laws to protect the LGBTQ community. Although there were anti-LGBTQ laws passed — most notably in Idaho, where the legislature and governor refused to immediately respond to the pandemic and instead spent time passing legislation expressly targeting transgender people — we also saw great progress. For example, the landmark Virginia Values Act passed and signed into law, making Virginia the first state in the South to adopt non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. The Human Rights Campaign’s 2020 State Equality Index covers what we saw last year and looks ahead to this year, highlighting the importance of proactive non-discrimination protections and other pro-equality legislation as LGBTQ people continue to be disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign president shared.

Unfortunately, states in the South did not fare well in the index and were among 25 states that fell in the lowest-rated category. Those southern states receiving “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality” designation were: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina,  South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

The Burlington Times-News reported, “North Carolina continues to significantly lag behind the rest of the nation when it comes to protecting LGBTQ folks and creating a culture where our most vulnerable can thrive,” Kendra R. Johnson, Equality NC executive director said. “Equality NC believes that the tides are changing — we will continue to fight for LGBTQ folks, particularly our Black and Brown trans communities, every day and work alongside elected officials and other community leaders to build a better North Carolina for us all.”

South Carolina also fared badly. It does not currently have laws or policies that outlaw housing and housing discrimination, hate crimes, public accommodations, harassment and/or bullying of students, transgender-inclusive health benefits to state employees nor driver’s license or birth certificate gender markers, as well as no restrictions on conversion therapy, WPDE added.

HRC’s full State Equality Index report, including detailed scorecards for every state, and a preview of the 2021 state legislative session is available online.


Corporate Equality Index Lists Carolinas Companies

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) has released its 2021 Corporate Equality Index, this year coming out after a year where the nation has faced a global pandemic, racial injustice and national unrest. However, even with these challenges, HRC said that even within the prevailing climate, companies have continued to advance vital workplace protections for LGBTQ employees around the world.

A record 767 companies achieved a top-score for LGBTQ-inclusive workplace policies despite a difficult year for businesses, stakeholders and customers, HRC added.

Over a 19-year history of the report, there has been wide-scale adoption of transgender-inclusive initiatives across businesses, HRC said.

Carolinas companies included in the report are: ABB Inc., Cary, N.C. (90); Advance Auto Parts (Advance Holding), Raleigh, N.C. (100); Bank of America Corp., Charlotte, N.C. (100); Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Durham, N.C. (75); Cargo Transporters Inc., Claremont, N.C. (100); Compass Group USA Inc., Charlotte, N.C. (80); Denny’s Corp., Spartanburg, S.C. (90); Duke Energy Corp., Charlotte, N.C. (100);  Food Lion, LLC, Salisbury, N.C. (100); GlaxoSmithKline LLC, Research Triangle Park, N.C. (100); Hanesbrands Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C. (90); Ingersoll-Rand Company, Davidson, N.C. (90); Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, Burlington, N.C. (100); LENOVO (UNITED STATES) INC., Morrisville, N.C. (100); Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Taylorsville, N.C. (100); Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Charlotte, N.C. (100); Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Columbia, S.C. (75); Nucor Corp., Charlotte, N.C. (0); Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, Greenville, S.C. (100); Pyxus International, Inc., Morrisville, N.C. (30); Quaintance-Weaver Management, LLC, Greensboro, N.C. (100); Red Hat Inc., Raleigh, N.C. (95); Relias LLC, Morrisville, N.C. (100); Replacements Ltd., McLeansville, N.C. (100); Retail Business Services, Salisbury, N.C. (100); Reynolds American Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C. (100); SAS, Cary, N.C. (90); Sealed Air Corp., Charlotte, N.C. (60); Sonic Automotive Inc., Charlotte, N.C. (0); Sonoco Products Company, Hartsville, S.C. (80); Trane Technologies, Davidson, N.C. (90); Truist Financial Corporation, Charlotte, N.C. (100); VF Corp., Greensboro, N.C. (100); and Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP, Winston-Salem, N.C. (100).


Join us: This story is made possible with the help of qnotes’ contributors. If you’d like to show your support so qnotes can provide more news, features and opinion pieces like this, give a regular or one-time donation today.

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.