- Cities of all sizes are advancing equal rights for their LGBTQ residents and workers despite a number of states' anti-LGBTQ legislation, according to the annual Municipal Equality Index released by The Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation Institute.
- A record 68 cities received perfect scores of 100, up from last year's record 60. Small- and medium-sized cities made up more than 60% of those with perfect scores.
- The report examined at least five municipalities in every state. It ranked the 506 cities and towns of various sizes on a scale of 0 to 100, based on their laws, policies, benefits and services.
LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices are on the rise in municipalities of all sizes, the report shows. It acknowledges that the municipalities are all very different from one another and operate under their own unique constraints, and for some the progress toward inclusivity has especially been an uphill battle. Despite challenges — often including a lack of help at the state or federal level — the trend was evident in municipalities across much of the country.
The average score on the survey was 57, which is up from last year's average of 55. The cities' averages in 36 states grew over last year and they stayed the same in three states. City averages in Alabama grew 17% over last year, the most of any state. Despite a number of states introducing legislation targeting the transgender community — and this year's presidential directive banning transgender individuals in the military — 22% of cities in the study now offer transgender-inclusive health care benefits. That's up from 17% last year.
The report points out 41 "all-star" cities that received scores higher than 85 despite being positioned in states that do not have any state-level LGBTQ protections. All-star cities receiving perfect scores include Akron, OH; Bloomington, IN; Columbia, KS; Fort Worth, TX; Louisville, KY and Missoula, MT. By recognizing these and other all-star cities, the report underscores that municipalities of all sizes have made progress toward equality and that the nation's biggest cities aren't necessarily more inclusive for the LGBTQ community than smaller ones.
Although some concern exists that certain states might try to undo progress or block further inclusive measures, the two organizations that released the report are optimistic that the trend toward greater equality will continue.