Boston, NYC, Score High In HRC Municipal Equality Index. Palm Springs, Not So Much

The Human Rights Campaign, which is awfully fond of lists, has come out with yet another: the HRC Municipal Equality Index, which ranks cities based on laws and policies affecting the local LGBT community.

According to HRC:

The Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the first ever rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law, finds that while many U.S. cities lag behind in protections for LGBT people, some of the most LGBT-friendly policies in the country have been innovated and implemented at the municipal level, including in states with laws that are unfriendly to the LGBT community.

Rankings were based  on 47  criteria divided into six broad categories: non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition,  employment practices, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and municipal leadership.

Overall, 137 cities were ranked, including all 50 state capitals and the 50 most populous cities in America, as well as the cities with the highest proportions of same-sex couples.

Out of the 137 municipalities, 11 received a perfect score of 100: Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Long Beach, Portland, OR, and Cambridge, MA.

While a quarter of the cities rated scored higher than 80%, some historically friendly destinations, like Provincetown, ranked at or even below average. HRC explains that the survey does not measure the overall climate of a city—how friendly it is to live there—but just its laws and offficial policies.

Still, some feathers have been ruffled:  MyDesert.com called the survey “sloppy” for giving three cities in the Coachella Valley—Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Rancho Mirage— less than favorable scores.  Rancho Mirage’s gay Mayor Scott Hines called his city’s 44% rating “degrading.” (The HRC has planned to send a representative to the valley to review the scores and maybe smooth some plumage.)

Download the entire Municipality Equality Index here.

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  • KirkR

    I spend 50% of my year in Palm Springs. Palm Springs is one of the most incredibly gay friendly cities on the planet. The city has elected a gay mayor for several terms now. The poll results are further proof of the continued irrelevance of the HRC.

  • FStratford

    I agree with Palm Springs bing lie on the list

    Palm Springs is a retirees mecca more than a gay one. Old white people are anti gay.

  • John Doe

    I think we need to be reminded of what their municipality index IS…. and ISN’T.

    It is not an index of a general sense of “gay-friendliness” or anything of that sort. It is a rather sterile look at things such as LGBT laws and policies on the books. The criteria and measurements are extremely specific.

    For example, does Palm Springs have their own laws that protect against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations? Does Palm Springs have laws or an ordinance that requires ALL contractors hired by the city to have their own LGBT non-discrimination policies? Are contractors required to provide equal benefits to LGBT employees? Does the city provide legal dependent benefits, equivalent family leave or “gross up” employee benefits to off-set the taxability of benefits given to LGBT partners? Is there an LGBT Liaison or Task Force in the city’s police department? Did they report 2010 Hate Crimes Statistics to the FBI? These sample categories and areas are all relating to very specific city / municipality laws and policies. Those cities that score the highest HAVE these laws… and some criteria are weighted more heavily than others. (Not all things are considered equal).

    Assuming that HRC has the correct information and isn’t lying, I would assume that Palm Springs does not have these laws and policies that HRC is looking at. But, as an average LGBT citizen or tourist one may not see these criteria in daily life, while visiting, while living in the city, etc. Thus, Palm Springs can be incredibly “gay-friendly” in countless ways…. but they still don’t reflect it in the specific laws and policies that HRC is measuring. Keep in mind, HRC even offers “bonus points” to cities that excel in certain areas. Thus, if they fall short in one area…. they can make it up in another.

    Anyway. Like I said, I think that the “index” is very specific. Taking a closer look at their index will help people understand why some cities scored high… and some scored low. (Each city’s score is listed in their index that covers just about every state and major city across the USA).

    Just saying. I don’t endorse HRC or anything of the sort. But, their index is rather clear in what they’re using as their criteria. Maybe their criteria sucks…. or maybe it is reasonable. Either way, they do say what their specific criteria is. If it were a general sense of “gay-friendliness” I’m sure that they’d have different results.

  • Cam

    Yeah, this is HRC, the same group that was angrily claiming that Target’s score of 100 was right even though they were continuing to donate money that was going to extremely anti-gay politicians.

    It was only after massive backlash that they backed down and admitted that gee, maybe they should rethink the scoring method.

    It’s a shame that nobody at HRC looks at a list and says “Hmmmm, Palm Springs? Can somebody double check this one?”

  • John Doe

    @Cam: FYI – The attacks on Target were completely overblown. They did 99 things right and 1 thing wrong…. and then got blasted for it as if they’d done 99 things wrong and 1 thing right. It is often what happens in this hyper-sensitive culture that conveniently overlooks the SAME THING happening in other areas…. such as when Washington DC Democrats entirely refused to bring LGBT protection laws (or repealing DOMA) to a vote (when DC was controlled by Democrats for 2 years recently)…. and yet they are still regarded as the LGBT-friendly party.

    In regards to Palm Springs, they apparently don’t do 99 things right if they scored so poorly on this rather sterile index…. an index that looks at specific municipal laws, ordinances and policies that protect LGBT employees, that deals with companies the city might have contacts with, etc. It has nothing to do with % of gays in the city, whether or not gays like to be tourists there, etc.

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