Providence earns Perfect Score on Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index

Providence Earns Perfect Score on Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index

One of 38 cities nationwide to be recognized for LGBT friendly policies

PROVIDENCE
- Mayor Angel Taveras announced Friday that Providence has received a perfect score on the third annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI) issued by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The HRC is the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization. The report, issued in partnership with the Equality Federation, provides a snapshot of LGBT equality in 353 municipalities of varying sizes, from every state in the nation.

Providence was one of only 38 cities across the county to have earned a perfect 100-point score based on its LGBT-friendly policies – up 19 points from its score in 2013.  HRC considers such things as relationships with the LGBT community, prohibiting employment and pay discrimination, offering domestic partner benefits and protecting students from school bullying because of sexual orientation.

“As a member of Mayors for Marriage Equality, I believe we are incredibly lucky to live in a state like Rhode Island that has been supportive of LGBT equality and was one of the first states to legalize marriage equality,” said Mayor Taveras. “I'm very proud of what we have been able to do in Providence to further these issues at the city level, including strengthening anti-discrimination ordinances and expanding our relationships with the LGBT community.”

According to HRC President Chad Griffin, “Mid-size cities and small towns have become the single greatest engine of progress for LGBT equality – changing countless lives for the better. In this country there is an ongoing race to the top to treat all people, including LGBT people, fairly under the law.”

Other key findings contained in the MEI, issued in partnership with the Equality Federation, provide a revealing snapshot of LGBT equality in across the county. The cities researched for the 2014 MEI include the 50 state capitals, the 200 most populous cities in the country, the four largest cities in every state, the city home to each state's largest public university, and an equal mix of 75 of the nation's large, mid-size and small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples.

•         38 cities earned perfect 100-point scores, up from 25 in 2013 and 11 in 2012, the first year of the MEI. Perfect scores are earned by cities with exemplary LGBT policies, ranging from non-discrimination laws and equal employee benefits, to cutting edge city services and strong relationships with the LGBT community;
•         Cities showing a commitment to LGBT equality are in all regions of the country, not just in those many people assume are most LGBT friendly -- the average MEI score for large cities in the Plains states is 68; in big cities in the Mountain states, it's 72;
•         Cities continue to excel even in the absence of state laws: of cities that scored a perfect 100, 15 are in states that don't have comprehensive relationship recognition or a statewide non-discrimination law -- up from eight cities in 2013 and two in 2012;
•         42 cities, or 12% of those rated in 2014, offer transgender-inclusive health care options to city employees.  This is up from 16 cities in 2013 and 5 cities in 2012.
•         32 million people now live in cities that have more comprehensive, transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws than their state or the federal government, underscoring the reality that Americans can still be fired in 29 states for their sexual orientation, and 32 states lack explicit gender identity protections;
•         The average city score was 59 points, with half of the cities researched scoring over 61 points. Eleven percent scored 100 points; 25 percent scored over 80 points; 25 percent scored under 44 points; and four percent scored fewer than 10 points;

The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories:

1.       Non-discrimination laws?
2.       Relationship recognition?
3.       Municipal employment policies, including transgender-inclusive   insurance coverage and non-discrimination requirements for contractors?
4.       Inclusiveness of city services
5.       Law enforcement?
6.       Municipal leadership on matters of equality

The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei. In addition to Providence, the HRC also scored the cities of Cranston, Pawtucket, South Kingstown and Warwick.

(release from City of Providence)