Mayor Tom Barrett and other state and local leaders joined the Human Rights Campaign for an event celebrating the city at City Hall today
MILWAUKEE — Today in Milwaukee, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute, honored Milwaukee for its first 100 on the annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the only nationwide rating system of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal law and policy.
The event featured HRC President Chad Griffin, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Assemblymember JoCasta Zamarripa, Alderman Cavalier “Chevy” Johnson, transgender advocate Syd Robbie, Fair Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Equal Rights Commission and other local equality advocates. The event also highlighted the historic progress being made across the 506 cities included in the survey, even in places where anti-LGBTQ state elected officials have sought to undermine local efforts to guarantee equality for all.
“Milwaukee is a shining example of a city that is truly leading the way on LGBTQ equality—despite efforts by some on higher levels of government to roll back hard-won protections,” said HRC Wisconsin State Director Wendy Strout. “Cities like Milwaukee know that enacting immediate protections for LGBTQ people is not only the right thing to do—it’s the smart thing to do. Inclusive cities send a clear message that all visitors, residents, and workers are welcome and valued, attracting country’s best and brightest and the businesses looking to employ them.”
“As we push for state government to recognize the need for protections for everyone in the LGBTQ community, our local government officials are leading the way for equality,” said Megin McDonell, Executive Director of Fair Wisconsin. “Fair Wisconsin in partnership with HRC Wisconsin and our allies will continue to work side by side with local leaders to make the Badger State a safer and more welcoming place for all.”
Said Tony Snell of the Milwaukee Equal Rights Commission, “Milwaukee has demonstrated that we will champion inclusiveness and defend LGBTQ rights. Most recently, we have expanded gender identity, gender expression, and HIV status protections; banned conversion therapy for minors; and our MPD has improved its procedures for engaging transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex communities. I am enormously proud of HRC’s work and that of our Equal Rights Commission, city leadership, and community partners.”
This year, for the first time ever, Milwaukee has achieved a perfect 100-point score. Over the past year, the City Council, Mayor, and Equal Rights Commission made furthering LGBTQ inclusivity a central goal, entacting vital protections against the harmful and debunked practice of so-called “conversion therapy,” ensuring that city employees have access to transgender-inclusive healthcare, and expanding citywide protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to public spaces. Now, all LGBTQ residents, workers, and visitors are protected in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
For LGBTQ Americans, legal protections and benefits vary widely depending on location — states and cities have markedly different laws governing discrimination. 21 states have non-discrimination laws that include protections for LGBTQ people in employment, and 20 states have laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in places of public accommodation. But cities are leading the way: since the MEI’s debut in 2012, the number of cities earning perfect scores has increased more than sevenfold, and today at least 25 million people live in cities that have more comprehensive, transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws than their state.
This year, 506 cities across the country were rated, including seven in Wisconsin. The average score for cities in Wisconsin is 61 out of 100 points, which falls above the national average of 58.
Other key findings from the 2018 Municipal Equality Index include:
103 cities from states without comprehensive nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people scored above the overall nationwide average of 58 points. These cities averaged 83-point scores; 34 scored a perfect 100.
Cities continue to excel even in the absence of inclusive state laws: 46“All Star” cities in states lacking comprehensive non-discrimination laws scored above 85 points, up from 41 last year, 37 in 2016 and just two in 2012.
The national city score average increased from 57 to 58 points. 78 cities scored 100 points; 25 percent scored over 83 points; 50 percent scored over 58 points; 25 percent scored less than 36; and 15 cities scored zero points.
Cities are protecting LGBTQ youth. 17 MEI-rated cities enacted local protections against the harmful and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.”.”
The MEI rated 506 cities including the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the United States, the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 75 municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state group members and supporters. It assesses each city on 49 criteria covering citywide nondiscrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement, and city leadership’s relationship with the LGBTQ community.
The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual,transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.