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Standards for Credit on the MEI

Scoring for the MEI 2014 will change from scoring in previous years.  First, there will be changes to the scorecard criteria.  Second, we are clarifying the standard cities will be held to in the awarding of points for all criteria.   

Scorecard Criteria Revisions

Please refer to the revised 2014 scorecard available here.  Changes to standard points are as follows:

  • Transgender inclusive health care benefits have been converted from bonus points into standard points.  All cities will be expected to have transgender inclusive health care in order to earn a perfect score through standard points. 
  • Equal benefits ordinances will be worth one fewer point and human relations commissions have been divided into two categories, one of which is scored as bonus points. 

Bonus points on the revised scorecard have been substantially altered as follows:

  • As mentioned above, human relations commissions will now be worth four standard points with an additional three bonus points if the commission is empowered with an enforcement mechanism;
  • Two categories are being condensed: pre-emption of DP registries will now be accounted for in Facing State Restrictions, and Engagement with the LGBT Community will now be folded into Part VI, the measurement of city leadership’s relationship with the LGBT community;
  • Services for Vulnerable Populations will be expanded to have each of the four components be worth two points each; and
  • Grossing up will now be worth two points instead of three.

 In total, the MEI will continue to reflect 100 standard points and 20 bonus points.

Clarification Regarding Existing Standards

  1. Non-Discrimination in Employment, Housing, and Public Accommodations.  As before, state, county, and city law will be recorded in this section.  To receive credit, a law must specifically enumerate sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.  A “bathroom exception” will result in docked points.  If there are religious exemptions for individuals, as opposed to religious organizations, points will also be docked.
  2. Relationship Recognition.  State level relationship recognition including marriage, civil unions, or comprehensive domestic partnerships established by statute or case law will be awarded points.  Marriages performed on the basis of unclear legal authority will not be classified as marriages for the purpose of the MEI until legal authority is established.  As before, domestic partner registries at the county or city level will be worth the same number of points as state level relationship recognition to reflect that cities do not have control over marriage law.
  3. Municipality as Employer. 
    1. Non-Discrimination in City Employment.  This can be established either via an enumerated municipal ordinance that expressly includes city employees or via an enumerated equal employment opportunity policy adopted by the municipality.  If the city has an employment non-discrimination ordinance that enumerates sexual orientation and gender identity the city is NOT presumed to be covered by that ordinance; the ordinance must either specifically address city employees or the ordinance must be incorporated by reference in city employment policies.  If state or county law is enumerated to include sexual orientation or gender identity this too may be incorporated by reference.  An unenumerated non-discrimination policy or ordinance will not be sufficient to earn credit.
    2. Domestic Partner Health Benefits. These benefits, which extend healthcare coverage to domestic partners or same-sex married spouses, must be explicitly extended in benefits documents.  Where the city is in a jurisdiction where there is state-level relationship recognition the proof of these policies can be minimal but is not assumed; otherwise these benefits must be explicitly extended in a written policy to same-sex partners in order to receive credit.
    3. Transgender-Inclusive Health Care Benefits.  The municipality must provide at least one health insurance plan that provides coverage for transgender healthcare needs (sex reassignment surgeries, hormone replacement therapy, and other gender-affirming care).  The policy must affirmatively include gender-affirming care; a lack of exclusion is not sufficient for an award of points because this care is routinely not covered.
    4. Legal Dependent BenefitsThe municipality receives credit in this section when it recognizes and explicitly includes a dependent of the employee’s domestic partner as a dependent of the employee.   Where the city is in a jurisdiction where there is state-level relationship recognition the proof of these policies can be minimal but is not assumed; otherwise these benefits must be explicitly extended in a written policy to same-sex partners in order to receive credit.
    5. Equivalent Family Leave.  To receive credit in this section a municipality must explicitly provide equivalent family leave to same-sex families (same-sex spouses or domestic partners and their dependent children) as it does to heterosexual families under FMLA and other policies.  Points will be awarded where there is a state law to this effect.
    6. City Contractor Non-Discrimination Ordinance or Policy.  These can be established through municipal ordinances or policies that mandate all city contractors to have non-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  Partial credit may be awarded where the city gives a bidding preference to a city contractor with an inclusive non-discrimination policy.
    7. City Contractor Equal Benefits Ordinance or Policy.   The municipality requires contractors, by written policy or by ordinance, to provide equal benefits to LGBT employees.  Generalized language stating that benefits will be applied equally and which does not specifically enumerate sexual orientation or gender identity will not suffice for credit. 
    8. Bonus: Grossing Up of Employee Benefits.  Grossing up is when municipalities pay employees an offset to compensate for the tax penalty inflicted on some same-sex couples with regard to domestic partner benefits.   Prior to the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, because same-sex marriages were not recognized by the federal government, all legally married same-sex couples receiving domestic partner benefits from an employer were taxed on those benefits when married heterosexual couples were not.  The repeal of DOMA has eliminated this additional tax for married same-sex couples.  However, couples in civil unions and domestic partnerships continue to be subject to this tax penalty.  An employer can offer a stipend or a percentage increase in salary to ensure that employees in same-sex relationships are not effectively paying more to receive the same benefits.  This can be done via a municipal ordinance or an employment policy.
    9. Bonus: Municipality is a Welcoming Place to Work.  This section assesses whether a municipality has LGBT-specific programming to attract LGBT applicants and promote diversity in the workplace.  Cities will receive credit if they have any of the following: an employee pride alliance, diversity training that is inclusive of LGBT issues, or a recruitment program that actively advertises to the LGBT community.
  4. Municipal Services
    1. Human/Civil Rights Commission.  A commission or council tasked with eliminating discrimination in a city.  Starting in 2014, this commission will be worth four standard points if its purpose is largely or entirely educational.  The commission may hold community discussions, screen movies, present panels, take public comment, advise the city on matters of diversity and inclusion, develop policies and strategies for making the city more inclusive, and undertake other similar types of endeavors. The commission must have met recently (within the last three years) and a federal EEOC office located in a city does not garner credit unless the city has contracted with them for the services described above. 
    2. Bonus: Enforcement mechanism in Human/Civil Rights Commission.  Where, in addition to the functions listed above, a Human/Civil Rights Commission has the authority to conciliate, issue a right to sue letter, or otherwise enforce non-discrimination protections, that commission will earn three bonus points in addition to the four standard points awarded above.
    3. LGBT Liaison in the Mayor’s Office.  To receive credit in this category, there must be an officially designated liaison to the LGBT community.  The function of a liaison is not simply to be a resource for the mayor, but also to be a resource for the public to elevate the concerns of the LGBT community and ensure they are being heard.  Therefore, the liaison’s contact information must be made available to the public through the city’s website or where other city officials’ contact information is published.  LGBT persons who work in the mayor’s office do not qualify for credit in this category unless their service in this capacity is part of his or her official job; however, LGBT liaisons may have additional job functions unrelated to LGBT issues.  Please note that credit is given in part VI for openly LGBT city elected or appointed officials.
    4. Enumerated Anti-Bullying School Policies.  To receive credit in this category, a city or county ordinance, state statute, or school district/school board policy must specifically prohibit bullying and enumerate the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds upon which to bully.  Anti-harassment policies that are enumerated and include language that encompasses bullying will be given credit, but hazing or harassment policies that do not encompass bullying will not receive credit.  Where there are multiple schools or districts in the city limits, credit will only be given at the local level if all schools within city limits have enumerated anti-bullying policies.
    5. Bonus: City provides services to LGBT youth. Cities that provide services, partially provide services, or provide funding for services for LGBT youth will receive two bonus points.
    6. Bonus: City provides services to LGBT homeless. Cities that provide services, partially provide services, or provide funding for services for LGBT homeless people will receive two bonus points.
    7. Bonus: City provides services to LGBT elderly. Cities that provide services, partially provide services, or provide funding for services for LGBT elders will receive two bonus points.
    8. Bonus: City provides services to people living with HIV or AIDS. Cities that provide services, partially provide services, or provide funding for services for people who are HIV positive or living with AIDS will receive two bonus points.
  5. Law Enforcement
    1. LGBT Police Liaison or Task Force. To get credit in this category, there must be an officially designated liaison to the LGBT community or task force charged with addressing LGBT issues.  An LGBT Liaison or task force must be publicly known in order to receive credit.  The function of a liaison is not simply to be a resource for the department, but also to be a resource for the public to elevate the concerns of the LGBT community and ensure they are being heard.  Therefore, the liaison’s contact information must be made available to the public through the city’s website or where other police contact information is published.  LGBT police officers, including high-ranking officers, do not qualify for credit in this category unless their service as liaison is part of his or her official job.  Partial credit will be given in this category where the entire police force is trained on LGBT issues. 
    2. Reported 2012 Hate Crimes Statistics to the FBI.  The city must report hate crimes statistics to the FBI in all categories and either:
    3. Report a positive number of hate crimes in any category in 2011 (i.e. report more than “0” for hate crimes reported in any one or more of the protected categories), OR
    4. Report zero hate crimes in 2011 AND have reported a positive number of hate crimes some year in the past five years.  This second is to recognize that statistically it is possible that no hate crimes of any kind have occurred in a small city this year, but that it is improbable that no hate crimes of any kind have occurred in in the last five years. 
  6. Relationship with the LGBT Community
    1. Leadership’s Public Position on LGBT Equality.  This section grades, on a sliding scale from zero to five points, how pro-equality the leadership is in public statements.  City leadership includes the mayor, city manager if applicable, city council, and other government officials.  These statements may include joining a pro-equality association such as Mayors for Freedom to Marry, coming out publicly in favor of LGBT rights, supporting LGBT community organizations, etc.  It also includes comments made during city council meetings or at other public events. Starting in 2014, this section will also include participation in Pride events and partnership with LGBT groups to create solutions to city problems.
    2. Leadership’s Pro-Equality Legislative or Policy Efforts. This section grades, on a sliding scale from zero to three points, how actively the city has been pursuing pro-equality legislation and policies.  This includes ordinances introduced, whether passed or not, and city policies, as well as pro-equality city council resolutions.
    3. Bonus: Openly LGBT Elected or Appointed Municipal Leaders.  The criteria for points in this category is the person be a leader – have some kind of a senior elected or appointed position in the city – and that the person be openly LGBT.  A state or federal elected representative from the city does not qualify, as the person must be elected or appointed to a position in the municipality being rated.
    4. Bonus: Cities are Pro-Equality Despite Restrictive State Law. This category, which we formerly called “Resisting Dillon’s Rule”, gives credit to cities who have a state law of some kind that restricts the city’s ability to pass LGBT inclusive ordinances and who take distinct actions to push back against that limit either by advocating for change or testing its limits.  Simply being in a state with such restrictions is not enough to quality for these points. Many states do not have this type of law, which means many cities are not qualified to receive these points. In 2014 this section will include cities that had domestic partner registries that were rendered moot by restrictive state law.

For further information about these scoring standards, please email mei@hrc.org.