#AM_Equality Tipsheet: October 19, 2017

by Allison Turner

BREAKING --HRC exclusive measure of municipal LGBTQ inclusivity shows cities across nation leading the way

BREAKING -- HRC RELEASES MUNICIPAL EQUALITY INDEX SHOWING CITIES ACROSS NATION, IN STATES BOTH RED AND BLUE, LEADING WAY TOWARD FULL EQUALITY: Today, HRC, in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute, released its sixth annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the only nationwide rating system of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal law, policy and services. “This year’s MEI paints a vivid picture: cities big and small, in red and blue states alike, are continuing our progress toward full equality, regardless of the political drama unfolding in Washington, D.C., and in state legislatures across the country,” said HRC President Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin). “Today, the MEI serves as a vital tool for business leaders and municipal officials alike when it comes to economic development. CEOs know that in order to attract and retain the best employees, they must grow their companies in places that protect LGBTQ citizens from discrimination and actively open their doors to all communities. The MEI is the best tool to help these businesses make crucial evaluations about the welcoming -- or unwelcoming -- nature of towns and cities across the nation.” More from HRC.

  • The 2017 MEI reveals new heights in municipal LGBTQ equality in nearly every regard. A record 68 cities earned perfect scores for advancing LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices -- up from 60 in 2016, 47 in 2015 and 11 in 2012, the first year of the MEI. And in the current political reality, welcoming cities are more important than ever.

READ THIS MORNING’S PIECE IN USA TODAY -- CITIES TAKING ACTION TO “STAMP OUT DISCRIMINATION”: USA Today’s Susan Miller (@susmiller), writes, “The report lands in a year that saw activists fending off legislation in statehouses as more than 100 anti-LGBT bills were introduced in 29 states. The transgender community was targeted with about 39 of those bills. Also striking, the report says: In addition to legislative changes, more cities modified administrative policies to stamp out discrimination.” Read the full piece from USA Today.

LATER TODAY -- HRC JOINING CITY LEADERS AND EQUALITY PARTNERS TO LAUNCH MEI IN PITTSBURGH, BIRMINGHAM AND TEMPE: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have both scored perfect 100s on the 2017 MEI. Today at 2 p.m ET, HRC will hold a press conference in Pittsburgh, with Mayor Bill Peduto, Dr. Rachel Levine, City Council President Bruce Kraus, leaders from PNC Bank and Equality Pennsylvania to launch the MEI. More from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

  • Today at 10 a.m. CT, HRC will hold a press conference in Birmingham, Ala. with Mayor-elect Randall Woodfin, members of the Birmingham Council and Equality Alabama.
  • Today at 3 p.m. Arizona MT, HRC will hold a press conference in Tempe, Ariz. with Mayor Mark Mitchell and community business leaders and advocates to launch the MEI.
  • If you are interested in attending these events, please contact press@hrc.org.

THE NUMBERS: Progress on transgender equality has been particularly noteworthy in cities across America this year, continuing a positive trend that the MEI has tracked -- and encouraged -- since 2012. Transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits are offered to employees of 111 municipalities this year -- up from 86 in 2016, 66 in 2015 and just five in 2012. The MEI’s Issue Brief on Transgender-Inclusive Health Benefits is available here. Other key findings from the 2017 MEI include:

  • 86 cities from states without comprehensive nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people scored above the overall nationwide average of 57 points. These cities averaged 84-point scores; 28 scored a perfect 100.
  • Cities continue to excel even in the absence of inclusive state laws: 41“All Star” cities in states lacking comprehensive non-discrimination laws scored above 85 points, up from 37 last year, 31 in 2016, 15 in 2014, eight in 2013, and just two in 2012.
  • The national city score average increased from 55 to 57 points. 68 cities scored 100 points; 25 percent scored over 79 points; 50 percent scored over 59 points; 25 percent scored less than 36; and 11 cities scored zero points.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Since the MEI’s 2012 debut, the number of cities earning perfect scores has increased by more than sixfold, and today at least 24 million people live in cities that have more comprehensive, transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws than their state.

MEI BONUS -- CHECK OUT THESE SPECIAL REPORTS: This year’s MEI also includes three special reports. Protecting Youth from Harmful “Conversion Therapy,” The Imperative of Responsible Hate Crime Reporting, and Equal Access to Sex-Segregated Facilities. Read the full reports from HRC.

AG SESSIONS BECOMES TONGUE-TIED ON INDEFENSIBLE “LICENSE TO DISCRIMINATE”: During a DOJ oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, several Senators addressed recent policies and memos issued by the DOJ, including the sweeping “license to discriminate” order. Sessions shamefully admitted that specific examples of discrimination were “something I never thought would arise” following his latest attack on the LGBTQ community. “It’s difficult to believe that the Attorney General of the United States did not consider all potential ramifications before he signed a sweeping license to discriminate order,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “Jeff Sessions knew exactly what he was doing and was proud to pander to Trump-Pence extremists. Any attempt to paint this directive as something other than a vicious attack on the LGBTQ community is disingenuous.” Read more from HRC and The New York Times.

  • In an opinion piece for The Hill, Ian Thompson (@iantDC) lays out the ways Sessions has led the fight against LGBTQ rights. Read the piece at The Hill.

HRC WANTS TO SEE INFO ON TRUMP ADMIN LETTER TO RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON ANTI-LGBTQ ATTACKS IN CHECHNYA: HRC filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the U.S. Department of State seeking all records regarding a letter that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly sent earlier this summer to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addressing the violence against LGBTQ people in Chechnya. “The very fact that we are required to compel the State Department to release this letter speaks volumes about the Trump-Pence administration’s lack of leadership on this life-or-death situation in Chechnya,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global. Trump and Tillerson have failed to publicly condemn the attacks. Read more at HRC.

#NoMuslimBanEver: HRC yesterday joined a rally outside the White House to oppose discriminatory efforts by the Trump-Pence administration to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. #LoveTrumpsHate

NC GOV. ROY COOPER’S EXEC ORDER REPRESENTS SOME PROGRESS, BUT NOT REAL SOLUTION -- LGBTQ ADVOCATES CONTINUE CALL FOR FULL, STATEWIDE NONDISCRIM PROTECTIONS: “While this executive order may represent some narrow improvements for LGBTQ North Carolinians, by no means does it offer full protections or rectify the tremendous harm caused by HB 2 and continued harm from HB 142,” said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs. Said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), “...it’s not nearly enough, especially when the state of North Carolina continues to sanction and promote anti-transgender discrimination under HB 142.” And Matt Hirschy, Interim Executive Director for Equality NC, said: “It is important to note that some of the worst portions of the HB2 compromise, HB142, remain on the books and continue to cause real harm to LGBTQ North Carolinians every day.” The executive order, which reaffirms some of the non-discrimination protections for state employees extended by Governor McCrory in the wake of HB2 last year, forbids state agencies, boards, commissions or departments under the office of the Governor from discriminating in state employment, the provision of government services, the administration of government programs, and the awarding of state contracts and grants. However, even with the executive order, North Carolina still does not and cannot truly protect LGBTQ people, especially transgender people, from discrimination because of House Bill (HB) 142. Read more at HRC.


Hartford Courant reports that transgender activist Fran Fried competed on “Jeopardy!” earlier this week; LGBT Weekly describes SAGE’s 22nd Annual Awards & Gala, held on Monday;

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A.M. Equality