West Hollywood joins Los Angeles, Long Beach, Palm Springs, San Diego and San Francisco as the highest ranked cities in a survey of LGBT equality in California.
The Human Rights Campaign‘s 2014 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) gives each of those six cities a ranking of 100. The average for the 55 California cities surveyed is 73, with Visalia the lowest ranked at 48.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civill rights organization. Its annual index survey covers 353 cities across the nation. This year the nationwide average was 59 while the California average was 73.
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 that is 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:
1) Non-discrimination laws
2) Relationship recognition
3) Municipality’s employment policies, including transgender-inclusive insurance coverage, contracting non-discrimination requirements and other policies relating to equal treatment of LGBT city employees
4) Inclusiveness of city services
5) Law enforcement
6) Municipal leadership on matters of equality
The scores for each of the California cities ranked by MEI are as follows: Anaheim: 67, Bakersfield: 54, Berkeley: 95, Brisbane: 51, Cathedral City: 90, Chula Vista: 61, Concord: 62, Corona: 63, Elk Grove: 76, Escondido: 60, Fontana: 59, Fremont: 84, Fresno: 67, Fullerton: 58, Garden Grove: 59, Glendale: 61, Guerneville: 74, Hayward: 58, Huntington Beach: 72, Irvine: 68, Lancaster: 88, Long Beach: 100, Los Angeles: 100, Modesto: 63, Moreno Valley: 64, Oakland: 93, Oceanside: 57, Ontario: 65, Orange: 68, Oxnard: 61, Palm Springs: 100, Palmdale: 66, Pasadena: 76, Pomona: 76, Rancho Cucamonga: 59, Rancho Mirage: 93, Richmond: 80, Riverside: 75, Sacramento: 87, Salinas: 59, San Bernardino: 67, San Diego: 100, San Francisco: 100, San Jose: 88, Santa Ana: 59, Santa Clarita: 69, Santa Rosa: 81, Signal Hill: 93, Stockton: 79, Sunnyvale: 69, Thousand Oaks: 64, Torrance: 63, Vallejo: 74, Visalia: 48, West Hollywood: 100.
In California, “the Municipal Equality Index reveals a ‘tale of two Californias’,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, whose parent organization issued the survey in partnership with HRC. “Most of our larger cities and more progressive municipalities like Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Francisco have perfect or near-perfect scores, while many other cities – particularly in the Central Valley, Orange County and more rural areas – fall far short of the mark. Even in California there’s still much work to be done, and Equality California will continue to lead the way with important education campaigns in the Central Valley and other rural parts of the state.”
Chad Griffin, president of HRC, said this year’s survey shows nationwide progress. “From Mississippi to Idaho, mid-size cities and small towns have become the single greatest engine of progress for LGBT equality–changing countless lives for the better,” Griffin said. “In just three years, the number of municipalities earning top marks for their treatment of LGBT citizens has more than tripled. Simply put, in this country there is an ongoing race to the top to treat all people, including LGBT people, fairly under the law, and it’s time our state and federal laws caught up.”
Thirty-eight American cities earned perfect 100-point scores in the latest survey, up from 25 in 2013 and 11 in 2012, the first year of the MEI. Other findings contained in the 2014 MEI:
• Cities in all regions of the country earned excellent scores, demonstrating that commitment to LGBT equality is not confined to parts of the country many people assume are most LGBT friendly;
• Cities may score higher despite 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; that’s up from eight cities last year, and just two 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;
• 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.
• Cities with a higher proportion of same-sex couples tended, not surprisingly, to score better, and the presence of openly-LGBT city officials and LGBT police liaisons also were correlated with higher scores.
The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online.