CHICAGO — Twenty cities in the Great Lakes area got perfect 100s in the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI) that was released this week.
At least one city in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota was rated as inclusive in the study. Ohio had the largest number of cities in the top 20 with Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton each getting a perfect score. Missouri, Michigan and Iowa each had three cities getting a perfect score.
However, many cities did score low. Jefferson City, the Missouri state capital, was the only city in the region to score zero in the survey. Missouri had the lowest average score at 48 while Ohio and Iowa both tied for first with 87 points.
Regional cities’ rankings are:
|West Des Moines||Iowa||79|
|Fort Wayne 42||Ind.||42|
The HRC worked with the Equality Federation Institute to create the index, which rates 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.
Since the MEI’s debut in 2012, 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.
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 35; and 11 cities scored zero points.
The MEI rated 506 cities including 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, municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state group members and supporters. It assesses each city on 44 criteria covering citywide nondiscrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement, and city leadership’s relationship with the LGBTQ community. Starting in 2018, the MEI will introduce new criteria including protecting youth from “conversion therapy” and will deduct points for religious exemptions that allow discrimination by singling out LGBTQ people.
The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.