The Daily Beast ranks the 20 Most Tolerant States – does the list make sense to you?

By Guest Contributor Pam Spaulding, cross-posted from Pam’s House Blend

As the country commemorates Martin Luther King Day and reflects on Tucson, The Daily Beast crunches the numbers to rank the tolerances of every state across America. How did yours stack up?

In the four-plus decades since Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, America has surely moved closer to a country where people are judged more by content of their character than the color of their skin-or their gender, religion or sexual orientation. In honor of today’s national holiday, and mindful of the debate fostered by the massacre in Tucson, The Daily Beast sought to examine which states are the most tolerant, devising a thorough point system that measures each state’s residents based on their actions and opinions, as well the scope of state laws guaranteeing equal rights and protections, which reflects the broader political will.

When you surf over to look at these rankings by The Daily Beast as described above, a state’s tolerance ranking takes into account this criteria:

1. Tolerance score: __ out of 100
2. Hate crime score: __ out of 40
3. Discrimination score: __ out of 40
4. Gay rights score: __ out of 10
5. Religious Tolerance Score: __ out of 10
6. Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: __ (+ ranking out of 50 states)
7. Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: __ (+ ranking out of 50 states)
8. Population in support of same-sex marriage: __
9. Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: __%

Now with that in mind, take a look at the top 20, without the benefit of seeing their scores on the above criteria; some of the ranking seems quite bizarre from a LGBT perspective.

The Daily Beast’s List of the 20 Most Tolerant States

1. Wisconsin
2. Maryland
3. Illinois
4. Pennsylvania
5. Hawaii
6. California
7. Minnesota
8. New Jersey
9. New Hampshire
10. New Mexico
11. Virginia
12. Iowa
13. North Carolina
14. Connecticut
15. Florida
16. Louisiana
17. New York
18. Massachusetts
19. West Virginia
20. Nevada

#1 Wisconsin actually has a marriage amendment in place.

For the life of me I cannot understand how holy-rolling Virginia and West Virginia even made it into the top 20, or for that matter, Louisiana. And what is Massachusetts doing bringing up the rear at #18? New Jersey surely should be in the top 10, but behind Pennsylvania?

And if we’re strictly going on institutionalized equality advances, California should be near or at the top because aside from Prop 8, LGBTs have parity in protections at almost every level.

I’ll share the stats for my state, NC, which is at #13. Surf back to The Daily Beast to see the other states for comparison.

13. North Carolina

Tolerance score: 63 out of 100
Hate crime score: 25 out of 40
Discrimination score: 30 out of 40
Gay rights score: 2 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 1.1 (11 out of 50 states) Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 11.5 (10 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 36%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 62%

Since I can speak to the anecdotal issue of tolerance in the state, there are a couple of facts to put on the table:

  • We don’t have a marriage amendment (yet; that is now in sight after the midterms, with GOP rule of the Gen Assembly for the first time since Reconstruction).
  • More of the population is urban/suburban than rural now, but there is a downside. What that means is more people live near centers of business, education, techonology and medicine, which draw highly educated transplants from around the world. The problem here is that the conservative, more exurban/rural areas are hardcore conservative, and more progressive transplants/transient families don’t necessarily consistently vote. Prime example – the Wake County School Board debacle, where fundies packed the board taking control because lazy progressives didn’t bother to go out and vote to prevent the resegregation of the school system.
  • Day to day life in the city centers is tolerant. I’ve encountered more overt and passive-aggressive race-based and LGBT-based discrimination in NYC than I do here in NC. Neighborhoods tend to be more racially diverse, with the main division socioeconomic.
  • Re: being out of the closet — people generally just don’t think about it, care about it, and take it in stride. Now if you drive far enough out into the stix and see trucks with Stars & Bars stickers and a gun rack, you may want to keep driving. We’re not stupid.
  • Equality: um, there really is little to report when it comes to LGBT rights, but what we can report is significant. NC was the first Southern state to pass a trans-inclusive anti-bullying bill, and had equal hospital visitation rights long before the federal advance that went into effect this year. Other than that, you can be fired for being LGBT if you are a state worker or work for a private business where there is not an anti-discrimination policy. The only mitigating factor is the wealth of private corporations and universities employing many LGBTs have not only trans-inclusive anti-discrimination policies, but offer partner benefits.

All that said, a ranking of #13 seems high to me. If one of those states is your own, how do you think it should rank?

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