Friday, June 02, 2006

Bay State Trails Sexual Lefties

Six. That requires two hands to count.

Massachusetts came in behind five other states in national rankings of same-sex and reproductive rights for liberality.

We should have predicted it. For decades, we've smiled at the in joke of being Taxachusetts. Combining income, property and sales taxes, we were never at the top anyway, but it was kind of like being accused of being rich. We took it was a grin. After all, there was a literary elegance in the term that Taxas or Taxabama lacks.

Key details of the new research are on the site of the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce. You can also drill down to any state's ranking, stats and facts at

This cliché-busting opus makes sense, once you get past the same-sex-marriage gorilla. The Boston Herald quotes what is likely to be a typical conservative reaction. Republican State Senator Bob Hedlund told them, "I find that hard to swallow. We're the only state that has legalized gay marriage. so I don't know how the hell that doesn't make us the most liberal."

The "how the hell," Bobbykins, is that reality is not obsessed with a single issue. The research covered over 20 indicators. The Taskforce cited:
  • Public funding for family planning and abortion
  • Whether health-care providers can deny medical services because of their beliefs
  • Whether same-sex couples can adopt
  • The use of abstinence-only curricula in schools
  • Whether states have anti-discrimination clauses that explicitly protect gays
The research and mapping project was a joint effort of the Taskforce's Policy Institute, IPAS, and SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective.

For our provincial concerns, we should know that we came in as less sexuality and gender liberal than:
  • New Mexico (tie)
  • New York (tie)
  • New Jersey
  • Washington
  • California
Way at the bottom were not Deep South states. Ohio and South Dakota tied to 50th most liberal.

The Taskforce notes that N.Y. and N.M. "earned top honors because each had many laws that promote, not restrict, reproductive and sexual rights. South Dakota's last-pace finish was influenced by the state Legislature's approval of an abortion ban earlier this year."

Here, we still fret and fume about whether public schools can mention condoms or lesbians.

Our allegedly liberal commonwealth got dings in multiple areas.

Massachusetts received 100 penalty points on the following filters:
  1. Mandatory parental involvement in minors’ abortions
  2. Prohibition of state-funded insurance coverage of abortion
  3. Medicaid coverage of family planning services
  4. “Conscience” or refusal clauses
  5. Fetal homicide laws
Massachusetts received 50 penalty points on the following filters:
  1. Enjoined: Mandatory waiting period before abortion
  2. Enjoined: TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws
  3. Enjoined: DOMA (Defense of Marriage Acts) and similar constitutional amendments
  4. Enjoined: Legal status of midwifery
We put up tall, wide screens of legal SSM and openness to GLBT folk in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Amherst. Behind all hat, depending on your viewpoint, there's lots of hidden rubble that we lefties need to toss, or six is way too liberal.

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Mark D. Snyder said...

Very interesting! Thanks for this post.

massmarrier said...

Just so, Mark...interesting. Thinking about the distinction among states that promote gender, preference and sexuality rights and those that may tolerate some things puts Massachusetts in a different light. We still have a ton of restrictions and struggle to promote education and rights. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Picking an unimportant nit:

Ohio and South Dakota tied to 50th most liberal.

How is that possible? If there's a tie at the bottom of the list, aren't they both 49th best? (Or perhaps the list includes D.C., or Puerto Rico?)

massmarrier said...

You reminded me of a junior high teacher who liked to point out how loose most of are on such things. She noted that in baseball or any ranking, tied for first is really tied for first and second, as it represents both positions.

Of course in a race, the idea of two humans, horses or whatever crossing the finish together before the other runners is tied for first.

To your point, yes, that was a bit lazy on my part.

Anonymous said...

You reminded me of a junior high teacher who liked to point out how loose most of are on such things.

Yes, well, we all have our crosses to bear. :-)