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"It's a little oasis of all things tolerant in Arkansas," says Kendra R.Johnson, the state director for Human Rights Campaign Arkansas.Businesses throughout the community have rainbow stickers in their windows, indicating that they are a shelter from harassment or bullying.Adding to that, the police have trained business owners to be able to handle all kinds of issues, especially situations that may threaten trans people.

) The hope is, in these cities, a visitor or newcomer could enjoy the best overall experience. "When cities begin to make a stand, state legislators take a notice," Persad says.It's easy to sniff at the slow progress in Mississippi -- but who in America is fighting the good fight like Jesse Pandolfo, who runs the gay bar in Jackson?Likewise you might fault Iowa for flipping back to red in 2016 -- but almost no one is pushing harder for broad civil equality than the people of Iowa City.Last November the Republican candidate for president won 30 states, making them, for the next four years, "red states." Thirty is a lot of states, all with varying levels of protections for their LGBTQ citizens, but we can safely generalize on this: As a group, these states are lagging.Nationwide, the Human Rights Campaign counts 31 states that don't have comprehensive laws to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, in employment, and in receiving services. That's the discouraging news, if you're living in any of those states, or if you care about equal rights. In every one, cities are ahead of the curve in making life more welcoming -- and more safe -- for diverse peoples.

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