Mayors across the country – including many members of the Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination coalition – are assessing their city’s record on LGBTQ equality through the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which recently released its 2017 edition.
The Municipal Equality Index examines the LGBTQ-inclusivity of municipal laws, policies, and services. Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality. The 2017 MEI is the sixth annual edition and rates a total of 506 cities on 44 different criteria from every state in the nation.
Two cities of merit in the index, designated as “MEI All Stars,” are Tempe, AZ and Pittsburgh, PA, both of which scored 100, the highest possible rating. Notably, both scored the maximum rating, 30 out of 30, on examination of their non-discrimination laws, which protect LGBTQ people in housing, employment, and public accommodations. These ratings were in relation to both the individual city and the county it is located in; currently, both Arizona and Pennsylvania do not have statewide non-discrimination protections on the books.
Mayor of Tempe, Mark Mitchell, joined local government and business leaders to celebrate the announcement. He said:
“It’s important that our LGBTQ employees, residents, and visitors feel safe, welcome and celebrated. We let people know that in Tempe, we will welcome you as you are and protect you from discrimination at home, at work and in public spaces because inclusivity is not only a moral imperative, it’s an economic imperative, and the bottom line is that it’s the right thing to do. We need to continue our work to take equality outside of the five cities with non-discrimination ordinances in Arizona and work for comprehensive statewide non-discrimination protections.”
On May 2, Mayor Mitchell publicly announced the results of Tempe’s MEI rating at the 2017 Mayor’s Ability Awards, honoring individuals and businesses who support Tempe’s values of inclusion, equality, and commitment to improving life for all Tempe citizens.
Pittsburgh celebrated improvement over last year’s MEI rating, jumping up from a 2016 rating of 93. On October 19th, Mayor Bill Peduto announced the provision at the City-County building, surrounded by dozens of people celebrating the city’s score. Mayor Peduto attributed the improvement to several factors, including adding gender confirmation surgery to the city’s insurance program. Mayor Peduto said:
“It helps us to get good employees within the city, and certainly we want to be able to allow everybody to live their life to their full potential. By doing this, we’re guaranteeing that our employees have that ability.”
According to government officials, other factors that attributed to Pittsburgh’s All Star score include the appointment of an LGBTQ liasion to the Pittsburgh police department, as well as a move by the city council in December 2016 to ban so called “conversion therapy” for minors.
Tempe and Pittsburgh join 41 other cities with All Star ratings of 100, including Seattle, Washington, Fort Worth, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio. Read the full index here.
Even with these success stories, Mayors Against LGBTQ Discrimination remains committed to fight for nationwide comprehensive non-discrimination laws. Visit us to see the list of more than 260 mayors who have signed the pledge in support of LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination.