The Human Rights Campaign, in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute, has released the “Municipal Equality Index,” providing an “evaluation of LGBT inclusion in municipal law and policy.” The report looks at 137 cities. (emphasis added throughout post)
Many U.S. cities lack sufficient protections for LGBT people, even in some the ‘bluest’ states with progressive reputations. That’s according to a new report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation … . The Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the first ever rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law, finds that while many U.S. cities lag behind in protections for LGBT people, some of the most LGBT-friendly policies in the country have been innovated and implemented at the municipal level, including in states with laws that are unfriendly to the LGBT community.
You can see the full report here.
From the release statement:
Key findings from the MEI create a snapshot of LGBT equality in 137 municipalities of varying sizes drawn from every state in the nation — these include the 50 state capitals, the 50 most populous cities in the country, and the 25 large, 25 mid-size, and 25 small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples. Seattle and other 100-point cities serve as shining examples of LGBT inclusivity, with excellent policies ranging from non-discrimination laws, equal employee benefits, and cutting-edge city services.
While media and public attention is often focused on the national level of LGBT equality efforts, and at least related to marriage, on the state level, much of the critical work is done at local levels. Advocacy at all levels is, of course, crucial. This report is important in providing details about the kind of progress being made, and still to be made, at municipal levels, often lost in the national conversation.
MEI at a glance:
Eleven of the 137 cities surveyed earned a perfect score of 100 points — these cities came from both coasts and in between, were of varying sizes, and not all are in states with favorable laws for LGBT people;
A quarter of the cities rated scored over 80 points;
45 percent of cities surveyed obtained a score of 60 or higher;
Nearly a third of cites scored between 40 and 60 points, showing good intentions on behalf of municipal governments but also opportunity for improvement; and
Just under a quarter of the cities scored less than 20 points, including eight cities that scored under ten points and three that scored zero.
The MEI used 47 criteria, under six broad categories: Non-discrimination laws; Relationship recognition; The municipality’s employment practices; Inclusiveness of city services; Law enforcement; and Municipal leadership.
Pulling out the ratings for state capitals as one way of comparing:
AK Juneau 14; AL Montgomery 0; AR Little Rock 17; AZ Phoenix 70; CA Sacramento 79; CO Denver 97; CT Hartford 95; DE Dover 41; FL Tallahassee 46; GA Atlanta 82; HI Honolulu 60; IA Des Moines 79; ID Boise 26; IL Springfield 70; IN Indianapolis 64; KS Topeka 16; KY Frankfort 0; LA Baton Rouge 2; MA Boston 100; MD Annapolis 66; ME Augusta 67; MI Lansing 55; MN Minneapolis 91; MO Jefferson City 0; MT Helena 15; MS Jackson 8; MT Helena 15; NB Lincoln 34; NC Raleigh 43; ND Bismark 17; NH Concord 53; NJ Trenton 57; NM Santa Fe 48; NV Carson City 32; NY Albany 95; OH Columbus 83; OK Oklahoma City 26; OR Salem 76; PA Harrisburg 76; RI Providence 76; SC Columbia 40; SD Pierre 13; TN Nashville 50; TX Austin 91; UT Salt Lake City 87; VA Richmond 15; VT Montpelier 68; WA Olympia 64; WI Madison 95; WV Charleston 62; WY Cheyenne 2.
The perfect 100 scoring cities: CA: Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco. MA: Cambridge, Boston. MO: St. Louis. NY: New York City. OR: Portland. PA: Philadelphia, WA: Seattle.
The 0 scoring cities: AL: Montgomery. KY: Frankfurt. MO: Jefferson City.
(MEI Report Graphic via HRC)