Just how friendly are laws and programs in your area for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community?
A new report by the Human Rights Campaign attempts to answer this question, grading 137 municipalities across the country on a broad range of criteria assessing local policies. The report, the first of its kind, attempts to peg an overall score for each area, dubbed the “municipal equality index.”
Most cities earning the highest marks weren’t surprises. Eleven recorded perfect scores: Boston, Cambridge, Mass., Long Beach, Calif., Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and St. Louis.
Cathryn Oakley, the report's author, told Governing cities in states with better protections for LGBT people tended to score better. Several cities in states with fewer protections did, though, manage to register high marks.
"In some cases, the better municipal work is being done where sates are less progressive,” Oakley said. "It’s terrific to look at places like St. Louis and Salt Lake City that are doing really tremendous work for where they are."
HRC - the nation's largest LGBT advocacy group - employed a rating system based on 47 criteria in six categories: non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, municipal employment practices, city services, law enforcement and the locality’s relationship with the LGBT community. Areas could also earn up to 20 bonus points for programs not applicable to other areas.
The scores only assess laws and policies, not quality of life factors.
The following map shows scores for all cities assessed, with those earning higher marks in green (open full-screen interactive map with scores).
Of all municipalities the study examined, three state capitals were slapped with zeros (out of 100 points) in the report: Frankfort, Ky., Jefferson City, Mo., and Montgomery, Ala. In addition, Baton Rouge, La., Cheyenne, Wyo., and Pleasant Ridge, Mich., also scored near the bottom of the list. The report notes smaller cities with populations less than 200,000 scored comparably to larger areas. Oakley, HRC's legislative counsel for state and municipal advocacy, said she was surprised more local governments had not established employee groups, recruitment efforts and diversity training for their own employees. HRC selected the 75 largest municipalities, 50 state capitals and areas with the highest proportions of same-sex couples for the study. Oakley said the group plans to assess more cities in the second iteration of the report next year.