New York City has, for the fifth year in a row, has achieved a perfect score on HRC’s 2016 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) for establishing LGBTQ-inclusive local laws, policies, and services.
Since the MEI’s debut in 2012, the number of cities earning perfect scores has more than quintupled, and today at least 24 million people now live in cities that have more comprehensive, transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws than their state or the federal government. And cities that have been rated all five years of the MEI have improved their scores by about 20 points over that time.
“New York City has been a leader in advancing LGBTQ rights at a local level, a fact reflected in its membership in this exceptional group of municipalities earning perfect scores every year since the inception of our Municipal Equality Index.” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “For the past five years, New York City has stood up for its LGBTQ residents and municipal workers time and time again,, serving as an inspiring example to other municipal, state and the federal governments on how to ensure full equality for all.”
Progress on transgender equality has been particularly noteworthy in cities across America this year, continuing a positive trend that the MEI has tracked. Transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits are offered to employees of 86 municipalities this year (up from 66 in 2015 and five in 2012), and the growth of cities offering those benefits to their employees outpaces the growth in the number of cities rated. The MEI’s Issue Brief on Transgender-Inclusive Health Benefits is available here.
For the first time this year, the MEI deducted points from the scores of cities that have non-discrimination protections containing carve-outs prohibiting individuals from using public facilities consistent with their gender identity. It also created a new category of points to recognize cities that are offering transgender-specific city services.
Other key findings from the 2016 Municipal Equality Index include:
- 87 cities from states without nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people scored above the overall nationwide mean of 55 points. These cities averaged 80-point scores; 22 scored a perfect 100.
- Cities continue to excel even in the absence of state laws: 37 “All Star” cities in states lacking comprehensive non-discrimination laws scored a perfect 100 score, up from 31 last year, 15 in 2014, eight in 2013, and just two in 2012.
- The average city score was 55 points. 60 cities, or 12 percent of those rated, scored 100 points; 25 percent scored over 75 points; 25 percent scored under 33 points; and 8 cities scored zero points.
- Cities with a higher proportion of same-sex couples, as tabulated by a UCLA Williams Institute analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, tended to score better. The presence of openly-LGBTQ city officials was also correlated with higher scores.