Press

Glass Nearly Half Full: Analysis Shows 47% of U.S. Population Now Protected From Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

Date: 
January 25, 2005

One in Four Americans Lives In a Jurisdiction Banning Discrimination Against Transgender Persons

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Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
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January 25, 2005

With Illinois acting last week to ban anti-gay discrimination, 47 % of the U.S. population — 138 million people — now lives in a jurisdiction that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, according to an analysis by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. Ten years ago, the figure was 34%.

The analysis also found that more than one in four Americans — 27% — now lives in a jurisdiction that bans discrimination against transgender persons, up from 4% ten years ago, and 5% just five years ago. Illinois's law also bans discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

"Thanks to the hard work of grassroots activists, the glass of basic fairness for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans is slowly filling up," said Sean Cahill, Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. "While we have a long way to go until all of us are protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, the progress is undeniable and unstoppable."

The Policy Institute analysis concluded that the actions of state legislatures and town councils reflected strong public support for laws protecting gay and transgender people from discrimination.

As nondiscrimination protections have spread across the nation at the local and state level, a federal bill to ban anti-gay discrimination in employment has languished in Congress for nearly a decade.

Some Facts:

  • With Illinois adopting a law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, nearly 138 million Americans now live in a state or local jurisdiction with such a law.


  • Another 79 million live in a place that bans discrimination against transgender people. Ten years ago, only 9.7 million Americans lived in a jurisdiction that banned such discrimination.


  • However, 156 million Americans, or 53% of the U.S. population, live in a state or jurisdiction where one can be fired, refused service in a restaurant, or denied housing or a loan simply because of his/her actual or perceived sexual orientation.


  • 215 million Americans, or 73% of the U.S. population, live in a jurisdiction where a person can be fired, refused service in a restaurant, or denied housing or a loan simply because of his/her actual or perceived gender identity or expression.


  • Fifteen states (including Illinois) ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The first state to ban anti-gay discrimination was 1982 in Wisconsin.


  • Five states (including Illinois) ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression. The first state to ban anti-transgender discrimination was Minnesota in 1993.


  • Washington, DC and more than 200 towns, cities and counties also ban sexual orientation discrimination, and more than 70 local jurisdictions ban anti-transgender discrimination.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.