Kansas City and St. Louis received perfect scores in the Human Rights Campaign’s annual report assessing 353 cities nationwide on sexual orientation equality.
The 2014 Municipal Equality Index rated cities for inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion in municipal law and policy. The third annual report “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.” Sexual orientation is not a federally protected class against discrimination like race, gender, disability and age.
Despite the perfect score of 100 each for Kansas City and St. Louis, it was not surprising that other cities in the “Show-Me State” were not as progressive. The average score in Missouri is 54 out of 100 possible points. The report said that was below the national average of 59 — again, not surprising.
Kansas City and St. Louis were among 38 cities earning a perfect score, up from 25 in 2013 and 11 in 2012. The cities are progressing as the nation moves toward universal approval of same-sex marriage.
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Columbia, Mo., a college town, only scored 70. Independence, home of former President Harry S. Truman, only rated a score of 14. Jefferson City, Missouri’s capital, came in worse at 10. Springfield was only 27.
Kansas as a state had an average score of 38.5 — below Missouri’s rating. No city in the Sunflower State received a perfect score.
The report was presented in partnership with the Equality Federation, providing a revealing snapshot of LGBT equality in cities of varying size. The scores were based on 47 criteria falling under six categories:
▪ Non-discrimination laws.
▪ Relationship recognition.
▪ The municipality’s employment policies, including transgender-inclusive insurance coverage, contracting non-discrimination requirements and other policies related to equal treatment of LGBT workers.
▪ Inclusiveness of city services.
▪ Law enforcement.
▪ Municipal leadership on matters of equality.
The cities rated include the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the U.S., the four largest cities in each state, the home town of each state’s largest public university and an equal mix of 75 of the nation’s largest, mid-size and small towns with the highest proportion of same sex couples.
The report said that 32 million people now live in cities that have more comprehensive, transgender inclusive non-discrimination laws than their state or the federal government. “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 report said.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation strives to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. We can only hope that progress will continue to occur with more cities rating perfect scores.