(WASHINGTON) A report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality in America’s cities by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, rated 291 cities across the nation, including forty-two cities in California. The 2013 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) is the second edition of the only nationwide rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law. This year’s index finds that cities across the country, including in California, 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 was issued in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute. The average score for cities in California is 76 out of 100 points, which falls above the national average. The scores for cities in California are:
Anaheim scored 63 points; Bakersfield scored 59 points, Berkeley scored 95 points, Brisbane scored 61 points, Cathedral City scored 92 points, Chula Vista scored 66 points, Concord scored 68 points, Fontana scored 62 points, Fremont scored 86 points, Fresno scored 70 points, Garden Grove scored 63 points, Glendale scored 66 points, Guerneville scored 89 points, Huntington Beach scored 76 points, Irvine scored 54 points, Lancaster scored 87 points, Long Beach scored 100 points, Los Angeles scored 100 points, Modesto scored 58 points, Moreno Valley scored 64 points, Oakland scored 92 points, Oceanside scored 59 points, Ontario scored 65 points, Oxnard scored 61 points, Palm Springs scored 100 points, Pasadena scored 74 points, Rancho Cucamonga scored 59 points, Rancho Mirage scored 90 points, Richmond scored 77 points, Riverside scored 84 points, Sacramento scored 91 points, San Bernardino scored 60 points, San Diego scored 100 points, San Francisco scored 100 points, San Jose scored 87 points, Santa Ana scored 52 points, Santa Clarita scored 68 points, Santa Rosa scored 67 points, Signal Hill scored 93 points, Stockton scored 74 points, Vallejo scored 66 points, and West Hollywood scored 100 points.
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 that cover trans people 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 tended to be correlated with higher scores.
"The MEI exposes that there are two California's for LGBT people,” said Jesse Melgar, Communications Director for Equality California. “While we should be enormously proud of having a legacy of being at the forefront of equality, it underscores the enormous disparities that still remain in parts of our state and the continued work that lies ahead to achieve full and lasting equality."
“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.”
"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 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.
The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city and a searchable database, is available online atwww.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.
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor more than 90 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org