The annual ranking of cities by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) through their Municipality Equality Index (MEI)—inaugurated in 2012—has given the City of Long Beach a perfect score for the fifth year running.
HRC ranked the 50 state capitals along with the corresponding 50 largest cities in the U.S.; in addition, to be more disciplined in their list, they also ranked the 25 largest, mid-size, and small cities with the highest proportion of gay couples, including unincorporated census-designated places and cities with HRC steering committees. Compared to 137 cities surveyed last year, 291 cities were rated this year. The MEI rated 506 cities: the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the United States, the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities (including undergraduate and graduate enrollment), 75 cities and municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples, and 98 cities selected by members and supporters of HRC and Equality Federation state organizations.
This year, Long Beach joins 59 other cities in earning a perfect scores for advancing fully-inclusive policies and practices, up from 47 in 2015 and 11 in 2012, the first year of the MEI.
“This year, dozens of cities across the nation showed they are willing to stand up for LGBTQ people in their communities even when state governments are not,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This builds on a trend we have long observed: that local governments are at the forefront of our fight for equality. Unfortunately, our opponents have witnessed this progress too, and in recent years, anti-LGBTQ lawmakers have pushed spiteful legislation aimed at pre-empting local protections. That’s why it’s so important that we continue to not only fight for equality at the state and local levels, but to enact comprehensive federal protections for LGBTQ people under the Equality Act.”
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 above 85 points, 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.