Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Quick numbers on relationship recognition and discrimination laws

I promise I'll write some things that don't relate directly to LGBT rights soon; I have some ideas, but this whole finishing law school thing has been a bit of a distraction. For now, some interesting figures in light of recent legislation in Iowa, Washington, Oregon and New Hampshire:

States with full marriage recognition: 1
States with civil union or equivalent recognition: 6 (now incl. NH, OR)
States with modest partnership recognition: 3 + DC (now incl. WA)

States with sexual orientation-inclusive discrimination law: 20 +DC (now incl. IA, CO, OR)
States with gender identity-inclusive discrimination law: 12 +DC (now incl. IA, CO, OR)

For maps of the states, go here and here -- but not that the partnership recognition map designates by the term used rather than the extent of recognition conferred. This is an impotant distinction, since "domestic partnership" in Washington is more modest, whereas "domestic partnership" in California is basically equivalent to "civil union" in VT, CT, NJ & NH.

These numbers are impressive and, at the moment, expanding rapidly -- although we may soon hit the point where expansion slows again as all the states that are ready adopt these laws do so, and efforts in other states fall to gain momentum for the time being. In any event, the number of states in all these categories is now enough that we can start studying their effects across many states and very large populations, rather than relying on evidence from abroad (to which American policymakers, and indeed Americans in general, have always appeared inexplicably indifferent, regardless of the issue). An article from last year in the journal Pediatrics reads like a roadmap for such research, but we don't really seem to have good empirical work yet -- which we need.

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