Lesbiangaybisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) rights in the United States are among the most socially, culturally, and legally permissive  in the world.

In 1962, all 50 states criminalized same-sex sexual activity, but by 2003 all remaining laws against same-sex sexual activity had been invalidated. Beginning with Massachusetts in 2004, LGBTQ Americans had won the right to marry in all 50 states by 2015. Additionally, in many states and municipalities, LGBTQ Americans are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and access to public accommodations. Many LGBTQ rights in the United States have been established by the United States Supreme Court, which has invalidated a state law banning protected class recognition based upon homosexualitystruck down sodomy laws nationwide, struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, made same-sex marriage legal nationwide, and prohibited employment discrimination against gay and transgender employees. 

A September 2022 Grinnell College National Poll found that 74% of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be a guaranteed right while 13% disagreed, with strong majorities among both Republicans and Democratic voters. LGBT-related anti-discrimination law regarding housing and private and public services varies by state, leaving residents of some states unprotected. Twenty-three states plus Washington, D.C.Guam, and Puerto Rico outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, and twenty-two states plus Washington, D.C. outlaw discrimination based on gender identity or expression. The Equality Act, which is currently proposed in the United States Congress, would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity nationwide.

Family law also varies by state. Adoption of children by same-sex married couples is legal nationwide since June 2015 following the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (though Mississippi did not have its same-sex adoption ban struck down by a federal court until March 2016). Policies regarding adoption vary greatly between jurisdictions. Some states allow adoption by all couples, while others ban all unmarried couples from adoption. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity are punishable by federal law under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, but many states lack state-level hate crime laws that cover sexual orientation and/or gender identity. LGBTQ people of color face the highest rates of discrimination and hate crimes, especially trans women of color. Hate speech laws, including those that relate to sexual orientation.

Civil rights for LGBTQ people in the United States are advocated by a variety of organizations at all levels and concentrations of political and legal life, including the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda LegalGLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Since April 11, 2022 United States passports give the sex/gender options of male, female and X by self determination. In March 2022, the Social Security Administration announced that people can choose the options of male, female and X (in the future) by self determination on Social Security card applications.


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