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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 18, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 51
Seattle is one of HRC's perfect cities
2015 Municipal Equality Index released
Section One
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Seattle is one of HRC's perfect cities
2015 Municipal Equality Index released

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Seattle is one of 47 cities earning a perfect score of 100 points on HRC's latest Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the group announced December 17.

Seattle has been 'leading the way on equality for decades,' HRC President Chad Griffin said in a media conference call. 'Seattle has truly blazed the trail and set an example for the nation.'

In his conference call report, Griffin cited Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's hate crimes task force, the City's commitment to housing homeless youth, and the designation of gender-neutral restrooms in City facilities.

Murray, who joined Griffin on the call, noted that his city 'has one of the strongest economies in America.'

'When you have a welcoming city, creative people come, and creative people create jobs,' Murray noted.

Equal Rights Washington's Monisha Harrell also participated in the call.

'We have strong state [nondiscrimination] laws,' Harrell said, 'but not everything can be done at the state level. That's why we need leaders like Ed [Murray]. Our constituents can't wait for the state to act.'

In a statement accompanying the conference call, Griffin said that municipal governments are increasingly becoming leaders for LGBT equality.

'Across the nation, cities and towns are leading the way on equality for millions of LGBT Americans,' Griffin said.

'This year, a record number of communities have earned top scores in our Municipal Equality Index because they've extended fully inclusive benefits and protections to LGBT people and their families. What makes this progress especially remarkable is that these cities and towns are often going above and beyond state and federal laws to ensure LGBT residents and visitors are protected and treated equally.'

Since the MEI debuted in 2012, the number of cities earning perfect scores has more than quadrupled, and today at least 32 million people live in cities with fully inclusive local protections that are not guaranteed by the states in which they live.

Nineteen 'All-Star' cities in states that lack LGBT legal protections scored a perfect 100, up from 15 last year, eight in 2013, and just two in 2012. New to the All-Star list in 2015 are Louisville, Ky.; Detroit, Mich.; and Bloomington, Ind.

The average city score was 56 points, with half of the cities researched scoring over 59 points. Eleven percent scored 100 points, 25% scored over 78 points, 25% scored under 31 points, and 5% scored fewer than 10 points.

Cities with a higher proportion of same-sex couples tended to score better, and the presence of openly LGBT city officials and LGBT police liaisons also correlated with higher scores.

HRC researched 408 cities for the 2015 MEI, including all 50 state capitals, the nation's 200 most populous cities, the five largest cities in every state, the cities containing each state's two largest public universities, and an equal mix of 75 of the nation's large, mid-size, and small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples.

The MEI rates cities based on 41 criteria that fall into five broad categories:

1. Nondiscrimination laws

2. Municipal employment policies, including Transgender-inclusive insurance coverage and nondiscrimination requirements for contractors

3. Inclusiveness of city services

4. Law enforcement, including hate crimes reporting

5. Municipal leadership on matters of equality.

In response to a question from the SGN, MEI lead author Cathryn Oakley said the study did not take into account economic policies like Seattle's $15 per hour minimum wage, which would benefit lower-wage LGBT workers.

The full MEI report can be found at www.hrc.org/mei.

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Seattle is one of HRC's perfect cities
2015 Municipal Equality Index released

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