Richmond ‘gets better’ on national HRC rating for city’s treatment of LGBTQs
Richmond’s abysmal performance on last year’s Human Rights Campaign’s City rating guide is slowly becoming a thing of the past as RVA jumped over 20 points this year.
The HRC Municipal Equality Index is an annual survey of cities around the US determining how supportive and inclusive they are of LGBTQs. Last year, Richmond’s score of 34 put it below the national average.
However a lot has changed in the last year – Virginia’s recognition of Marriage equality, the Richmond Police Department establishing an LGBTQ liaison, and Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe enacting non-discrimination clauses for state employees.
All these positives for the Richmond LGBTQ community have manifested in an increased score for RVA. The city managed a score of 57 this year, and these gains are nothing to laugh at.
Some of the many points holding Richmond back include a lack of transgender-inclusive health care, no city Human Rights Commission, and no LGBT Liaison from the city.
“We are pleased with the city’s forward movement and fully expect the city to continue to improve on the municipal equality index,” said Mayor Jone’s Press Secretary in an email statement after hearing about RVA’s increased score.
Jone’s himself has said he does not support marriage equality, but hasn’t worked against LGBT rights in the city in his capacity as mayor either.
City Council President and 2nd District Councilman Charles Samuels has been concerned with RVA’s rating since 2013′s score showed Richmond needed so much work. He said he met with HRC within the last year and has worked with the group to increase our number.
But it seems the conversation only added a few points, and the complicated scoring system and the changes to scoring between years don’t help to differentiate some of the details.
Samuels also pointed to Virginia’s Dillon rule, which requires many rights and privileges to be granted by the state government before a city can enact them.
“I’m excited for the increase in our score,” said Samuels. “And it’s obvious we still have work to do, and we look forward to the day when we’re the highest scoring city in Virginia.”
Richmond came out 5th in the state (out of the nine cities surveyed). Arlington County was number one locally, only losing points for not having trans-inclusive healthcare or City Contractor Equal Benefits Ordinance. They gained many points for their LGBTQ inclusive city-funded or supported programs for LGBTQ youth, seniors, and HIV positive groups.
Samuels said he’d be open to discussions about providing city resources to support such groups, as long as they didn’t put any one population above another.
“I want to make sure everyone is treated equal,” he said.
Miami Florida was the highest rated nation-wide, scoring a perfect score of 100 with 18 bonus points for providing additional city services.
“Cities continue to demonstrate that all corners of America are ready for equality,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, who promised the nation’s largest LGBT support network would continue to offer it’s appreciation to cities for their commitment to equality. ”We look forward to continuing to work together until full equality reaches everyone, everywhere.”
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