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WeHo, L.A. get high marks on LGBT issues

LOS ANGELES — West Hollywood and Los Angeles were among the Southland cities receiving high marks in a study of governments’ attentiveness to LGBT issues.

The cities each earned perfect scores of 100 in the Municipal Equality Index released Oct. 17 by the Human Rights Campaign.

The average of California cities surveyed was 73, compared to the national average of 55.

“This year, dozens of cities across the nation showed they are willing to stand up for LGBT people in their communities even when some state governments are not,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said.

“This builds on a trend we have long observed — that local governments are at the forefront of our fight for equality,” Griffin said.

“Unfortunately, our opponents have witnessed this progress too, and in recent years, anti-LGBTQ lawmakers have pushed spiteful legislation aimed at pre-empting local protections.”

The survey rates cities on 41 criteria, including passage of nondiscrimination laws, employment and contracting policies, transgender benefits, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and representation by LGBT leaders.

Eleven cities in California received perfect scores, compared to eight last year. They included Long Beach San Diego, Cathedral City, Guerneville, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose.

The number of U.S. cities that scored 100 in this year’s survey was 60, up from 47 last year and 38 the year before.

For the first time this year, the index deducted points from the scores of cities that have non-discrimination protections that prohibit people from using public facilities consistent with their gender identity.

Also, a new category of points was created to recognize cities that are offering transgender-specific city services.

West Hollywood received 14 bonus points for an unofficial score of 114/100 in recognition of services to LGBT people and people with HIV/AIDS, for LGBT elected and appointed leaders, for being a welcoming place to work, and more.

The Human Rights Campaign rated a total of 506 cities in its 2016 survey; 98 more cities than were rated in 2015 and 369 more cities than were rated in 2012.

“I’m so pleased that West Hollywood is at the very top of the equality ratings for local governments,” Mayor Lauren Meister said. “We are proud and not afraid to speak out. And, we continue to advocate — as we have for more than 30 years since the city was incorporated — for the full legal rights of LGBT people, not only locally and in California, but everywhere.”

Since incorporation in 1984, West Hollywood has become one of the most influential cities in the nation in regard to its stance on LGBT issues. The city has a large LGBT population with approximately 41 percent of residents identifying themselves as gay or bisexual men and approximately five percent of residents identifying as lesbian or bisexual women.

The city has advocated for more than three decades for measures to support LGBT individuals and has been in the vanguard on efforts to gain equality for all people on a state, national and international level. The city also was the first city to create a domestic partnership registry as well as to offer benefits to city employees for same-sex couples.

As the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, the Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide — all committed to making the campaign’s vision a reality.

Founded in 1980, the campaign advocates on behalf of LGBT Americans, mobilizes grassroots actions in diverse communities, invests strategically to elect fair-minded individuals to office and educates the public about LGBT issues.

Detailed scorecard information is posted on the HRC website at www.hrc.org/mei.

 

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