Twelfth Edition of HRC’s Municipal Equality Index, Nation’s Most Comprehensive Survey of Cities’ LGBTQ+ Policies, Shows Record Breaking 129 Cities - More Than 25% of All Surveyed - Earned Highest Possible Score, Despite State of Emergency Perpetrated By State Legislatures
WASHINGTON–Today, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC), the education arm of the nation’s largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, in partnership with the Equality Federation, an advocacy accelerator rooted in social justice that builds power in a network of state-based LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations, released the twelfth edition of the Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the only comprehensive nationwide assessment of LGBTQ+ equality in the areas of municipal policies, laws and services.
The 2023 MEI shows a record breaking 129 cities scoring the highest possible marks on the index–increasing the national average score–even in the face of state laws and policies that seek to shut transgender people and youth out of public life. Earlier this year, HRC declared a first-in-its-history “National State of Emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans,” citing the proliferation of hate against the LGBTQ+ community (particularly transgender people), legislative attacks on gender-affirming care, and growing numbers of extreme politicians fighting to turn back the clock on LGBTQ+ rights.
Key findings from the 2023 Municipal Equality Index include:
Since the MEI’s debut in 2012, the number of cities earning the highest score has increased by more than eightfold, and today at least 30.3 million people live in cities that have more comprehensive, transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws than their state.
A record breaking 129 cities, or more than 25 percent of all 506 surveyed cities and towns, earned the highest score of 100. This is up from 120 in the 2022 MEI.
42 cities, or about 20 percent of those which have offered trans-inclusive health care in the past, are unable to offer the same benefits to dependent minors due to superseding state law.
This score jump is because of progress made nationally, with every region of the country seeing a higher score than last year.
Only five cities surveyed scored zero points.
In 20 states across the country that lack explicit protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination laws, 74 cities earned a score of at least 85 points, designating them as “All-Star Cities” - recognizing their outsized work to push back on overreaching state-level legislation. This year’s all-star cities include:
Arizona: Chandler, Flagstaff, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Tucson
Florida: Coral Gables, Ft. Lauderdale, Gainesville, Hollywood, Miami, Miami Shores, Oakland Park, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, Tampa, and Wilton Manors,
Georgia: Atlanta, Decatur, and Athens-Clarke County
Indiana: Terre Haute, Bloomington, and Evansville
Kansas: Lawrence, Overland Park, Topeka, and Wichita
Kentucky: Covington, Lexington, and Louisville
Louisiana: New Orleans
MissourI: St. Louis, Columbia, and Kansas City
North Carolina: Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Carrboro
Ohio: Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbia, Dayton, Dublin, Lakewood, and Toledo
Pennsylvania: Allentown, Carlisle, Erie, Harrisburg, New Hope, Philadelphia, Reading, and State College
South Carolina: Myrtle Beach
South Dakota: Brookings
Texas: Dallas, Denton, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Arlington, and Austin
West Virginia: Charleston, Huntington, and Morgantown
The Municipal Equality Index scores the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the United States, the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 75 cities and municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples, and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state groups, members, and supporters.
Even though local leaders continue to pave the way forward for equality, there remains an unacceptable patchwork of laws for LGBTQ+ people across the country. This reinforces the need for the federal Equality Act that would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.
The full 2023 MEI report, including detailed scorecards for every city and a searchable score database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.
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