Each year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) ranks states for their equality index, a measure of each state’s legal stance towards LGBT rights and equality. For the first year, however, they have moved from ranking states to ranking cities in their inaugural Municipality Equality Index (MEI) report.
HRC ranked the 50 state capitals along with the corresponding 50 largest cities in the U.S.; in addition, to be more disciplined in their list, they also ranked the 25 largest, mid-size, and small cities with the highest proportion of gay couples, including unincorporated census-designated places and cities with HRC steering committees. The number of municipalities examined totaled 137 due to overlap in categories.
Much to the applause of our local community, Long Beach scored 102*, second only to Seattle (111), Philidelphia (109), San Francisco (108), New York (106), and Cambridge, MA (104). Long Beach lost points on equivalent family leave (2) as well as a lack of a mayoral LGBT liaison position (5).
“This is great news for Long Beach and for the local LGBT community,” said Vice Mayor Robert Garcia. “I’m proud that our city is doing everything it can to promote equality and inclusion. In fact, the report suggested that Long Beach look at modernizing our same-sex family leave policy and i plan to bring that issue to the City Council in the coming weeks.”
It should be noted that this is not necessarily a list of the “best places for LGBT people to live,” but an analysis of the ways in which laws and policies affect the LGBT community on an equal rights basis.
The methodology of the MEI was a challenging one, as it not only ranked cities based upon structural data—such as non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, the way in which municipalities and their contractors are required to treat LGBT employees, services and programs catering to the LGBT community—but also ranked the potential action of a city government—such as the views expressed publicly by local politicians.
Each city was, according to HRC, ranked within the context of that city’s given position; every city could score 100 despite different cities’ capacities to enact more radical equal rights legislation. In other words, though Virginia might not have as progressive laws as California on the books, the HRC ranks the municipality on how they use existing laws and propose new ones in order to further rights—which would explain why Arlington scored significantly higher than Richmond, why Los Angeles scored higher than Rancho Mirage.
*It should be explained that no formal HRC score exceeded a hundred; however, “bonus points” were assigned to scores, such as “municipality had relationship recognition law that was preempted by restrictive state law” and the such. Long Beach’s raw score, minus bonus points, was 93; Long Beach had 9 bonus points, giving its formal score 100.
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