How States Rank on Voting & Democracy Compared to LGBTQ Equality

Most states with the highest rankings for LGBTQ equality also have the highest rankings for democracy and voting rights. Similarly, most states that score poorly for LGBTQ equality also score poorly on democracy and voting rights.

Over the past few weeks, the news has been difficult on so many fronts. The January 6 hearings have shown how close our country has come to losing our democracy. Threats of violence against LGBTQ people, including at Pride celebrations, have increased this month.

To mark this Pride Month, Movement Advancement Project (MAP) is bringing our two mapping projects together to look at the interconnections between voting & democracy and LGBTQ equality. Without a strong democracy, we cannot strive toward a more inclusive country, as many historically underrepresented communities, such as LGBTQ people and people of color, know.

For more than 15 years, we’ve tracked LGBTQ laws and policies across the country to inform conversations about LGBTQ people, the challenges they experience state-by-state and issue-by-issue, and the opportunities for change.

And we recently launched our Democracy Maps, tracking more than 40 state election and voting policies to gauge the strength of democracy across the country.

We at MAP know that LGBTQ equality and the health of our democracy are connected.

The majority of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, strongly support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Yet lawmakers in a majority of states refuse to enact such protections.

Without free and fair elections, too many people are disenfranchised, face substantial barriers to voting, and live in gerrymandered states where they cannot effectively elect lawmakers who reflect their values on LGBTQ equality and other issues.

Full Democracy Tally rankings by state.

Full LGBTQ Equality Tally rankings by state.

State LGBTQ Equality Tally vs Democracy Tally Scores

Key Takeaways Comparing LGBTQ Equality and Democracy Tally Scores Across the Country:

Our LGBTQ Equality Maps and Democracy Maps show how issues of equality and democracy fit together. The chart above maps each state based on its LGBTQ Policy Tally and the Democracy Tally.

Takeaway 1: States with negative LGBTQ Tally scores also have low Democracy Tally scores. For example, Mississippi ranks last in the Democracy Tally scores and #45 in the LGBTQ Tally scores.

Seven other states fall into the bottom ten states on both tallies: Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, and South Carolina.

Takeaway 2: Generally, states with high LGBTQ policy tallies also tend to have higher Democracy tally scores. For example, California and Colorado rank #1 and #2 in the LGBTQ Tally for highest scores and are also #3 and #1 in the Democracy Tally, respectively.

Four other states score in the top 10 for both tallies: Vermont, Oregon, New Jersey, and Nevada.

Takeaway 3: The chart above also shows, however, that among states with relatively positive LGBTQ Tally scores, there remains a lot of variation in Democracy Tally scores.
For example, New Hampshire ranks #18 in the LGBTQ Tally, but is #44 in the Democracy Tally showing that they’ve taken many more steps to be inclusive for LGBTQ people but fewer positive steps to protect democracy and modernize election systems in their state.

Until recently, New York had been among the top ranked LGBTQ Tally states but was ranked below average on the Democracy Tally. However, over the past two years, lawmakers in New York have passed a number of positive election-related laws and policies, including a landmark state voting rights act earlier this week. The tally score in each area still varies widely, with New York, ranking #5 in the LGBTQ Tally but #22 in the Democracy Tally.

The Right to Vote and Struggles for Equality Are Connected.

Pride celebrations began as protests against brutality and a desire for visibility, respect, and recognition. LGBTQ people across the country continue to work tirelessly for basic protections. Similarly, the struggle for the right to vote has animated our country since its inception and the fight to ensure that every eligible citizen can cast their ballot and that their votes are counted continues.

Read more: What do voting rights have to do with LGBTQ equality?

To help inform these critical efforts, MAP will continue to track LGBTQ- and democracy-related laws and policies on our maps. We update them in real time, make them free to embed, and frequently provide data to advocates, policymakers, the media, and researchers.

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Democracy Maps

Democracy Maps tracks more than 40 laws and policies on elections and voting. Project of Movement Advancement Project, an independent, nonprofit think tank.