Is Richmond less LGBT friendly than last year? HRC says so in new Municipal Equality Index score
The Human Rights Campaign has released its annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI) and Richmond scored worse this year than it did in 2014.
The yearly MEI score aims to rate cities on how LGBT friendly and inclusive they are. Using data points like nondiscrimination policies in public and city employment, housing, and services, as well as tracking the work cities do to work with LGBTQ communities, the MEI adds up qualities and spits out a score.
“While this has been an historic year for equality, we are constantly reminded of just how far we still have to go,” said HRC President Chad Griffin in a release along side the new MEI scores. “In too many communities, LGBT Americans continue to face barriers to equality, overt discrimination, and even violence. We believe those challenges make full equality and strong legal protections all the more important, and today’s report makes clear that hundreds of local communities throughout all 50 states wholeheartedly agree.”
Sadly, it seems this year RVA dropped by 5 points, from 57 in 2014 to 52 this year. That’s just below the national average of 56 points.
47 cities earned perfect 100-point scores. This continues a steady increase over 38 cities in 2014, 25 cities in 2013 and 11 cities in 2012.
Virginia being a Dillon Rule state means any nondiscrimination laws that impact public or private employment must come from the General Assembly, and both the House and Senate are currently GOP dominated and show little signs of changing, making any hope for legislative action nearly impossible. This quality knocks off a bunch of points for Richmond every year.
There are cities which face similar unsupportive legislatures, with 19 “All Star” cities managing to reach 100 points despite comprehensive non-discrimination laws. That number was up from 15 last year, eight in 2013, and just two in 2012.
We held on to points for law enforcement support, with RVA having an LGBTQ Liaison and the city reporting hate crime statistics, and it seems the value of those points actually went up.
One factor to our decrease could have been “relationship recognition” being included last year. With the Supreme Court’s ruling this year, that no longer applies as a factor as every state now recognizes same-sex marraige.
Honestly, the score chart has made some changes and can be a bit more confusing to read, or at least compare year-to-year – have a look at 2014′s MEI and 2015′s MEI at either link- Richmond only lost 5 points this year, but for a city working as hard as we have to gain equality, you’d think we’d do better.
Things to keep in mind to improve our score next year
1 - Openly LGBT elected or appointed municipal leaders = 3 points
2 - LGBT Liaison in the Mayor’s Office = 5 points (but fat chance considering Mayor Jone’s lack of support on same-sex marriage)
3 - Transgender-Inclusive Healthcare Benefits for city employees = 6 points
4 - City Contractor Non-Discrimination Ordinance = 3 points
5 – City services for homeless LGBTs = 2 points
6 – City services for LGBT elderly and youth = 4 points
That’s 23 points right there! Maybe we should keep these in mind during 2016′s local elections.
“While this has been an historic year for equality, we are constantly reminded of just how far we still have to go,” Griffin said of cities like RVA who continue to sit below the national average. “In too many communities, LGBT Americans continue to face barriers to equality, overt discrimination, and even violence. We believe those challenges make full equality and strong legal protections all the more important, and today’s report makes clear that hundreds of local communities throughout all 50 states wholeheartedly agree.”
While cities didn’t have a “Top 10″ list for most inclusive, HRC did release a list of cities with the highest scores in many states.
Phoenix, AZ, St. Petersburg, FL, Bloomington, IN, Austin, TX, and Kansas City, Missouri were some notable names on that list, with zero Virginia cities making the list.
“…local governments are at the forefront of our fight for equality. Unfortunately, our opponents have witnessed this progress too…”October 24, 2016
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