A record number of U.S. cities have established fully inclusive local protections for LGBT people, a report (35 pages, PDF) from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of HRC, finds.
The 2015 Municipal Equality Index examined the non-discrimination laws, services, and employee policies and benefits of more than four hundred cities — including all state capitals and the two hundred most populous cities in the country — and found that forty-seven, or 11 percent, met all forty-one criteria for fully inclusive protections. The number of cities with perfect scores — which include Dallas, Iowa City, Louisville, Missoula, New York, Phoenix, and St. Louis — has more than quadrupled, from eleven, in 2012, when the index was launched. The highest concentration of top-scoring cities were found in the West, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, and New England regions, while those in the Mountain, Plains, Southeast, and Southwest regions fell below the average national score of 56. Given the June 2015 Supreme Court decision that affirmed nationwide marriage equality, this year’s index did not include relationship recognition in its criteria.
According to the index, sixty-six cities, or 16 percent of the sample, offer transgender-inclusive healthcare options to municipal employees, up from forty-two cities in 2014 and sixteen in 2013. The report also found that at least thirty-two million people live in nineteen cities with fully inclusive local protections that are not guaranteed by the state; currently thirty-one states lack fully inclusive non-discrimination protections in employment and housing.
"Across the nation, cities and towns are leading the way on equality for millions of LGBT Americans," said HRC president Chad Griffin. "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."