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November 19, 2013

Category: State Advocacy, State Laws

America’s Cities are Leading the Way in the Fight for LGBT Equality, HRC Releases 2013 MEI

Across the country, municipalities extend vital protections to LGBT citizens

WASHINGTON — From coast to coast, America’s cities are demonstrating a commitment to treating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people with dignity and respect by passing laws and implementing policies that treat all people equally.  That’s according to a new report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization.  The 2013 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) is the second edition of the only rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law.  This year’s index finds that cities across the country – including in Idaho, Kentucky, Georgia, Montana, Missouri, and Texas – continued to prove that municipalities will act to support equality for LGBT people, even where states and the federal government have failed to do so.  The MEI is issued in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute.

Key findings from the MEI create a snapshot of LGBT equality in 291 municipalities of varying sizes drawn from every state in the nation – these include the 50 state capitals, the 150 most populous cities in the country, the three largest cities in every state, the city home to each state’s largest public university, and the 25 large, 25 mid-size, and 25 small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples.  Twenty-five cities earned a perfect 100-point score and serve as shining examples of LGBT inclusivity, with excellent policies ranging from non-discrimination laws, equal employee benefits, and cutting-edge city services.

2013 MEI at a glance:

  • Cities across the country achieved excellent scores, demonstrating that cities have a commitment to LGBT equality that is unbridled by regionalism and not confined to parts of the country many people assume are most LGBT friendly;
  • 25 cities received perfect scores (100 points) in 2013; 11 did in 2012;
  • Of cities that scored 100, 8 cities came from states without comprehensive relationship recognition and without statewide non-discrimination laws (compared to two such cities in 2012);
  • 31 million people live in cities where trans people are protected at the city level alone;
  • In 2012 we rated 137 cities with a total population of 55,853,651; in 2013 we rated 291 cities with a population total of 77,851,822;
  • 10% of cities scored over 96 points, 25% scored over 78 points.  The average score was 57 points, half of cities scored over 60 points. 25% of cities scored 35 points or fewer; and 3.5% of cities scored 10 points or fewer.
  • Cities tended to have higher scores where the city was selected for having a high proportion of same-sex couples, and the presence of openly LGBT city officials and LGBT police liaisons also tended to be correlated with higher scores. 

“Equality isn’t just for the coasts anymore,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This groundbreaking report shows that cities and towns across the country, from Vicco, Kentucky to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, are leading the charge for basic fairness for LGBT people.”

The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories:

  • Non-discrimination laws;
  • Relationship recognition;
  • Municipality’s employment and contracting policies;
  • Inclusiveness of city services;
  • Law enforcement; and
  • Municipal leadership on matters of equality.

"Change is possible everywhere, and the Municipal Equality Index showcases the monumental progress we've made. In cities and towns across America, advocates are telling their stories, organizing their friends, and changing the hearts and minds of our policymakers and neighbors," said Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of Equality Federation. "We're winning equality where it matters most -- in the communities we call home."

The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city and a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC and the HRC Foundation strive to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. 

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