Human Rights Campaign Scores Cities Based on LGBTQ-Inclusive Policies

By Melanie Arter | October 27, 2016 | 11:06am EDT
(AP Photo)

( - The Human Rights Campaign released its Municipal Equity Index this week, which scores U.S. cities according to whether their laws and policies are inclusive of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) people.

“At a time when many states have failed to extend LGBTQ-inclusive laws and policies, cities are stepping up to ensure that all citizens are treated equally,” the HRC stated on its website.

The Municipal Equity Index Scorecard is based on five categories: non-discrimination laws, municipality as employer, municipal services, law enforcement, and the relationship with LGBTQ community.

The non- discrimination laws category “evaluates whether discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited by the city, county, or state in areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations.”

The municipality as employer category is described as such: “By offering equivalent benefits and protections to LGBTQ employees, and by awarding contracts to fair-minded businesses, municipalities commit themselves to treating LGBTQ employees equally.”

The municipal services category “assesses the efforts of the city to ensure LGBTQ constituents are included in city services and programs.”

The law enforcement category is described as such: “Fair enforcement of the law includes responsible reporting of hate crimes and engaging with the LGBTQ community in a thoughtful and respectful way.”

The relationship with LGBTQ community category “measures the city leadership’s commitment to fully include the LGBTQ community and to advocate for full equality.”

Fifty-eight cities received perfect scores of 100 based on a combination of all five categories.

“Across the country, 37 cities earned at least 85 points on the 2016 MEI despite hailing from a state without LGBTQ-inclusive statewide non-discrimination laws. These cities, dubbed ‘All-Star Cities,’ set a standard of LGBTQ inclusiveness with exemplary, best-practice policies such as local non-discrimination laws, providing transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees, and offering LGBTQ-inclusive city services. Due to the state-level restrictions, it would be impossible for these cities to earn a 100 rating without the help of bonus points,” the HRC stated on its website.

Furthermore, transgender-inclusive health care benefits are offered to employees in more municipalities this year – 86 this year, compared to 66 in 2015 and five in 2012.

“The growth of cities offering those benefits to their employees outpaces the growth in the number of cities rated,” the HRC stated.

“In a year when anti-transgender state bills grabbed headlines across the country, cities continued to listen to the voices of transgender youth and adults in their communities, responding appropriately and respectfully to their needs and committing to ensuring equality for all,” it stated.

According to the HRC, Chicago and Cleveland, “which has had a non-discrimination ordinance on the books for some time,” also removed “a transgender exclusion from the public accommodations section of the city ordinance.”   

“Both Jackson, Mississippi, and Juneau, Alaska, joined the ranks of cities offering non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to their residents and visitors. And Charlotte joined these cities and many more when it passed a non-discrimination ordinance that led anti-LGBTQ state legislators to pass the discriminatory HB2,” the HRC stated.

“Nineteen states and more than 100 cities, including all but three of the 20 largest cities in the United States, now have non-discrimination protections for transgender people in places of public accommodation,” the HRC found.

“More than 135 million Americans—or 42 percent of the U.S. population—live in jurisdictions with these protections. Municipalities continue to lead the way: 24 million Americans live in cities where the local ordinances outpace the state in offering nondiscrimination laws that protect citizens from discrimination on the basis of gender identity,” it stated.

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