Gay Politics points out that Alaska and South Dakota are the only states in the U.S. lacking openly LGBT elected officials. Is it just because the states lack LGBT legal protections or something else?
Let’s start by looking at each state’s legal protections for LGBTs:
Alaska banned marriage equality, civil unions and domestic partnerships in 1998; has no statewide discrimination protections for LGBT employees; lacks legal recognition for non-biological parents in same-sex couples and has no hate crime laws for gender identity or sexual orientation. The state ranked 25th in the Human Rights Campaign 2009 measure of states’ LGBT rights.
South Dakota banned marriage equality, civil unions and domestic partnerships in 2006; their state employment, public services, public accommodations, housing protections and hate crime laws do not include sexual orientation and gender identity. The state tied with six others from 39th to 45th in the HRC’s 2009 state ranking on LGBT rights.
But while the states’ equal rights records may not shine, the lack of openly LGBT officials could also be due to the fact that both states are red states, with Gallup ranking South Dakota as the fourth most conservative state.
But take hope! After all, Mississippi just joined the list of states with openly LGBT elected officials when Southhaven mayor Greg David got caught buying toys at a gay sex shop. So it could be that SD and AK are just one sex scandal away from finally having an openly LGBT office holder of their own.