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WASHINGTON — At a time when many states have failed to pass LGBTQ-inclusive laws and policies, cities are stepping up to ensure that all citizens are treated equally, according to a report issued last week by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.
In Michigan, six cities earned over 85 points on the 2019 MEI despite hailing from a state without LGBTQ-inclusive statewide non-discrimination laws. Across the country, 59 cities like these set a standard of LGBTQ inclusiveness with exemplary, best-practice policies such as local non-discrimination laws, providing transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees and offering LGBTQ-inclusive city services.
Ann Arbor, Detroit, East Lansing, Ferndale, Grand Rapids and Lansing earned one of HRC’s 59 MEI “All Star” designations. MEI All Stars are cities nationwide that are excelling by advancing LGBTQ equality without relying on state law. This year, Ann Arbor earned a 100, Detroit earned a 100, East Lansing earned a 100, Ferndale earned a 100, Grand Rapids earned a 92 and Lansing earned a 86.
The average score for cities in Michigan is 74 out of 100 points, which falls above the national average of 60.
“These inclusive and welcoming cities are standing up to the unrelenting attacks on the LGBTQ community by the Trump-Pence administration, and sending a clear message that the fair and equal treatment of our community, our families and our neighbors is a true American value,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “This year’s Municipal Equality Index shows that across the country, city leaders are working tirelessly to ensure that their constituents can secure housing, make a living and participate in community life without being discriminated against because of who they are. And the people overwhelmingly agree with these leaders: support for non-discrimination protections to protect LGBTQ people topped 70 percent, which includes a majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents. These policies are not only the right thing to do, but they are also critical in driving economic success by attracting residents, visitors and businesses that place a high value on inclusivity.”
“HRC’s MEI serves as a roadmap of the progress made in cities across Michigan toward full equality, but also as a reminder of the work still ahead,” said Erin Knott, executive director of Equality Michigan. “Equality Michigan will continue to work with city leaders in communities like Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Traverse City to create lasting, positive change for LGBTQ people.”
This year’s report also includes two new issue briefs for policymakers: Achieving a Healthier, Stronger Workforce through inclusive paid leave and expanding PrEP access to help end the HIV epidemic.
Since the MEI’s debut in 2012, the number of cities earning the highest score has increased by more than eightfold, and today at least 25 million people live in cities that have more comprehensive, transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws than their state.
Progress on transgender equality has been particularly noteworthy in cities across the U.S. this year, continuing a positive trend that the MEI has tracked — and encouraged — since 2012. Transgender-inclusive health care benefits are offered to employees of 164 municipalities this year — up from 147 in 2018, 111 in 2017 and just five in 2012. The
The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at hrc.org/mei.