The Human Rights Campaign's inaugural State Equality Index gave Maryland a middle-of-the-pack ranking when it comes to LGBT legislation.
The Human Rights Campaign's inaugural State Equality Index gave Maryland a middle-of-the-pack ranking when it comes to LGBT legislation. (Photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Maryland is mediocre when it comes to protecting its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents, according to a recent nationwide assessment of state laws.

While same-sex marriage is legal in the state and transgender residents enjoy more protections than ever before, Maryland still falls short in protecting LGBT parents and youth, according to the Human Rights Campaign's inaugural State Equality Index, released earlier this week.

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It also lacks health protections and anti-discrimination statutes found in other states, the study found. Since 2004, 18 "good laws" for the LGBT community have been passed, the study found, but LGBT advocates also had to fight to block 33 laws the HRC considered bad for the community.

The study placed Maryland in a third-tier category, called "Building Equality," along with six other states: Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

Ahead of it were seven states in the second-tier category, "Solidifying Equality," including Delaware and New York; and seven states in the top category, "Working Toward Innovative Equality," including California. The District of Columbia also landed in the top category.

The remaining 29 states fell below Maryland, in a fourth-tier category titled "High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality," including Maryland neighbors Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Many of the perceived gaps in Maryland law for LGBT residents have been noted in the past by local advocates, including the lack of non-discrimination laws in education, the lack of a ban on so-called "conversion therapy" for LGBT youth, and the lack of LGBT-inclusive juvenile justice policies.

Other laws not yet in place in Maryland but espoused by the HRC, including recognition rights for non-biological parents, are on the legislative agendas for local advocacy groups for 2015, including Equality Maryland.

"The State Equality Index is a valuable tool in showing the movement's achievements as well as the work to be done," said Keith Thirion, Equality Maryland's director of advocacy and programs, in a statement. "Equality Maryland will continue working for full legal and lived equality, including access to healthcare for transgender people, addressing inequalities faced by people of color and those most vulnerable in our communities, creating safe environments at school and at home for LGBT youth, and ensuring that every LGBT Marylander is free to live their full lives."

You can check out the full Maryland report card here.

Elsewhere in LGBT-related news:

- Mormon leaders have called for a more "balanced approach" in the culture war over gay rights and religious freedoms.

- Jim Parsons, as Advocate notes, will play God on Broadway.

- The Washington Post takes a look at the fact that not everyone in the LGBT community wants marriage.

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