MEImap

 

Missouri’s two largest cities have again earned perfect scores from The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization.

 

The third annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI) released yesterday asseses LGBT equality in 353 cities across the nation, including six in Missouri.

 

The 2014 MEI, the only nationwide rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law and policy, shows that cities across the country, including in Missouri, continue to take the lead in supporting LGBT people and workers, even when states and the federal government have not.

 

Celebrating the city’s third 100 rating, St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay believes equality makes for a stronger community.

 

“St. Louis has made a name for itself as one of the nation's most gay-friendly cities, and rightly so,” said Slay. “This summer, three gay couples and one lesbian couple got married in my office, effectively challenging Missouri's unconstitutional ban on same-sex marriage and paving the way for all couples in our state to be able to marry the person they choose.  Cities are strengthened by their families, and we strive to make St. Louis the sort of diverse and open place in which all families – gay and straight – choose to live, be creative, and build businesses.”

 

While the City of Fountains earned a perfect score for the second consecutive year, Kansas City Mayor Sly James says there's still more to be done.

 

“I am proud of the progress our City has made to ensure the inclusion and fair representation of the LGBT community,” said James.  “Although we received a perfect score, we know we still have work to do to further embrace this valuable part of our community.”

 

Also included in this year’s report was Columbia (70), Independence (14), Jefferson City (10) and Springfield (27). The average score for cities in Missouri is 54 out of 100 points, which falls below the national average of 59.

 

That said, The Springfield News-Leader reports that the city’s LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance, which passed Oct. 13, was not factored into Springfield’s score – which would bring it up to 45 and also raise the state’s average rating.

 

“The Municipal Equality Index (MEI) has become an incredible tool for advocates on the ground,” said A.J Bockelman, Executive Director of PROMO, Missouri’s statwide LGBT advocacy organization. “The road map it provides to local officials is a sensible way for supporters to advance basic equality issues and, at the same time, provide education on the impact of these broader issues.”

 

Key findings contained in the MEI, issued in partnership with the Equality Federation, provide a revealing snapshot of LGBT equality in 353 municipalities of varying sizes, and from every state in the nation. 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.

 

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

 

-Non-discrimination laws
-Relationship recognition
-Municipality’s employment policies, including transgender-inclusive insurance coverage, contracting non-discrimination requirements, and other policies relating to equal treatment of LGBT city employees
-Inclusiveness of city services
-Law enforcement
-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.

 

HRC Press Release Contributed to this Piece

 

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