Greater Social and Economic Disparities in South, Midwest, and Mountain States for LGBT's in U.S.

Author: The Williams Institute
Published: Thursday 18th December 2014 - Updated: Tuesday 28th February 2017
Summary: According to a new Williams Institute report LGBT Americans face greater social and economic disparities in the South, Midwest, and Mountain states of the U.S..


LGBT Americans face greater social and economic disparities in the South, Midwest, and Mountain states, according to a new Williams Institute report sponsored by Credit Suisse, a longtime partner of the Williams Institute. The report reviews social climate, demographic, economic and health indicators, and highlights disparities between the 21 states that currently have non-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation and the 29 states without such laws.

"In states where legal climates are less supportive of LGB people, social stigma toward them is also higher," said co-author, and Williams Public Opinion Project Director, Andrew Flores. "Social and legal climates are generally intertwined such that supportive laws and social acceptance run hand in hand."

"While there has been a lot of focus on the social and legal inequalities that LGBT people face in the South, the inequities for those living in the Midwest and Mountain states are sometimes overlooked," said Amira Hasenbush, co-author and Jim Kepner Law and Policy Fellow. "These data point to severe disparities with respect to HIV infection rates in the Mountain states and economic vulnerability in the Midwest."

Key findings include:

LGBT Americans in the 29 states without state laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (non-state law states) consistently see greater disparities than in the 21 states with such laws (state law states), including in the following areas:

LGBT Americans in the South face increased disparities compared to LGBT people in other regions in the country in the following areas:

LGBT people and same-sex couples from the Midwest find themselves facing some of the greatest inequities in:

LGBT people and same-sex couples in the Mountain states face regional differences in:

"Its not just that LGBT people in the Midwest and South are poorer because people in those regions tend to be poorer overall," said Gary Gates, co-author and Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar. "In some cases the economic disadvantages that LGBT people have relative to non-LGBT people markedly increase in those regions. In others, the advantages that you see for LGBT people in other parts of the country either disappear or reverse."

"While the nation seems on the verge of full marriage equality, most states still have not adopted non-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people," said Brad Sears, Executive Director of The Williams Institute. "This report sheds light on important differences between LGBT people who live in the states that have moved ahead on LGBT rights–mainly on the coasts - and those who have not."

"This study clearly identifies the financial disparities faced by members of the LGBT community," said Pamela Thomas-Graham, Credit Suisse's Chief Marketing and Talent Officer and head of the bank's New Markets business. "We partnered with Williams on this research for the same reason we created the Credit Suisse LGBT Equality Index and Portfolio: better information and more transparent data leads to smarter decisions for investors, policy makers, and our society."

The report is entitled, "The LGBT Divide: A Data Portrait of LGBT People in the Midwestern, Mountain & Southern States." It is co-authored by Williams Institute Jim Kepner Law and Policy Fellow, Amira Hasenbush; Public Opinion Project Director, Andrew R. Flores; Williams Policy Analyst, Angeliki Kastanis; Executive Director, Brad Sears; and Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar, Gary J. Gates. It is sponsored by Credit Suisse's New Markets business, led by Pamela Thomas-Graham, the bank's Chief Marketing and Talent Officer and the first woman and African-American to sit on its Executive Board.


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