Municipal Equality Index finds cities promoting LGBT rights
The 2013 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) rated the state of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality in 291 cities across the country. Conducted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the MEI found that throughout the nation, municipalities are working to support the LGBT community, even in states that have tabled or voted down related issues.
Varying in size from the extremely large to the very small, the 291 municipalities surveyed span the 50 states and include the 150 most populous cities in the nation, according to project materials. The MEI scrutinized the three largest cities in each state, the city with each state’s largest public university and the 25 large, 25 mid-size, and 25 small municipalities in each state with the highest proportion of same-sex couples.
Cities were rated using a scorecard on factors including:
- Non-Discrimination Laws – evaluating whether discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is legally prohibited
- Relationship Recognition – since marriage, civil unions and comprehensive domestic partnerships are a state matter, this category evaluates the municipalities' creation of domestic partner registries, and their relationship with state laws governing LGBT partnerships
- Municipalities as employers – recognizing benefits and protections to LGBT employees
- Municipal Services – assesses municipal efforts to ensure LGBT constituents are included in services and programs
- Law Enforcement – evaluates equitable enforcement of laws
- Relationship with the LGBT community – Measures city leadership's willingness to include and advocate for LGBT community members
Across the board, the MEI found that cities are a driving force – even those located in regions traditionally hostile to LGBT interest. 25 cities received perfect scores, with eight coming from states without relationship recognition or statewide non-discrimination laws (as compared to two such cities in 2012). Those cities were:
- Austin, Texas
- Columbus, Ohio
- Kansas City, Mo.
- Missoula, Mont.
- St. Louis
The study reports 10 percent of cities scored over 96 points (out of a possible 100,) 25 percent scored over 78 points. The average score was 57 points, with half scoring over 60. 35 percent of cities scored 35 points or fewer, with 3.5 percent scoring 10 points or fewer. Those cities include:
- Aberdeen, S.D., 10 points
- Baton Rouge, La., 7 points
- Bellevue, Neb., 6 points
- Birmingham, Ala., 9 points
- Cape Coral, Fla., 10 points
- Casper, Wyo., 10 points
- Fairbanks, Alaska, 2 points
- Laramie, Wyo., 10 points
- Laredo, Texas, 2 points
- Lubbock, Texas, 5 points
- Provo, Utah, 10 points
- Port Saint Lucie, Fla., 0 points
- Southaven, Miss., 0 points
- Starkville, Miss., 0 points
- Tuscaloosa, Ala., 10 points
“Equality isn’t just for the coasts anymore,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “This groundbreaking report shows that cities and towns across the country, from Vicco, Ken., to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, are leading the charge for basic fairness for LGBT people.”