WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today released its third annual report assessing LGBT equality in 353 cities across the nation, including five in Alabama.
The 2014 Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the only nationwide rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law and policy, shows that cities across the country, including in Alabama, continue to take the lead in supporting LGBT people and workers, even when states and the federal government have not.
The average score for cities in Alabama is 6 out of 100 points, which falls below the national average of 59. Birmingham: 9, Huntsville: 4, Mobile: 4, Montgomery: 8, Tuscaloosa: 3.
“From Mississippi to Idaho, mid-size cities and small towns have become the single greatest engine of progress for LGBT equality–changing countless lives for the better,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “In just three years, the number of municipalities earning top marks for their treatment of LGBT citizens has more than tripled. Simply put, in this country there is an ongoing race to the top to treat all people, including LGBT people, fairly under the law, and it’s time our state and federal laws caught up.”
“In many municipalities, local leaders are taking important steps to provide LGBT people with the protections and security not available at the state or federal level. And because of this leadership, many cities and counties are emerging as welcoming communities where LGBT people are treated with the dignity and respect they’ve always deserved,” said Rebecca Issacs, Executive Director of Equality Federation. “Municipal victories are fueling the movement for equality in states across this nation. The Municipal Equality Index is a terrific tool to help spur those victories along and celebrate the cities who have worked so hard to get us to this point.”
“The results of the 2014 MEI for Alabama clearly demonstrate that we must strengthen our efforts towards inclusion and equal rights. Municipal work is critically important and must not, for any reason, be disregarded,” said Ben Cooper, Chair of Equality Alabama. “We urge those who live and work in Birmingham, as well as the entire state of Alabama, to take a stand to protect all of our citizens. Whether you are an LGBT person or an ally, your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors must join us now to achieve equal treatment under the law. We encourage pastors, business owners and teachers who value fairness and equality to be champions of an inclusive, diverse and equal Alabama.”
Key findings contained in the MEI, issued in partnership with the Equality Federation, provide a revealing snapshot of LGBT equality in 353 municipalities of varying sizes, and from every state in the nation. The cities researched for the 2014 MEI include the 50 state capitals, the 200 most populous cities in the country, the four largest cities in every state, the city home to each state’s largest public university, and an equal mix of 75 of the nation’s large, mid-size and small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples.
Other findings contained in the 2014 MEI:
- Cities in all regions of the country earned excellent scores, demonstrating that commitment to LGBT equality is not confined to parts of the country many people assume are most LGBT friendly;
- 38 cities received perfect scores, even with this year’s more demanding criteria; that’s up from 11 in 2012, and 25 in 2013;
- Cities continue to excel even without depending on state law: of cities that scored a perfect 100, 15 are in states that don’t have comprehensive relationship recognition or a statewide non-discrimination law; that’s up from eight cities last year, and just two in 2012.
- 32 million people now live in cities that have more comprehensive, transgender inclusive non-discrimination laws than their state or the federal government;
- The average city score was 59 points, with half of the cities researched scoring over 61 points. Eleven percent scored 100 points; 25 percent scored over 80 points; 25 percent scored under 44 points; and four percent scored fewer than 10 points.
- Cities with a higher proportion of same-sex couples tended, not surprisingly, to score better, and the presence of openly-LGBT city officials and LGBT police liaisons also were correlated with higher scores.
- Non-discrimination laws
- Relationship recognition
- Municipality’s employment policies, including transgender-inclusive insurance coverage, contracting non-discrimination requirements, and other policies relating to equal treatment of LGBT city employees
- Inclusiveness of city services
- Law enforcement
- Municipal leadership on matters of equality
The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories:
The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.