A new report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality in America's cities by the Human Rights Campaign has found that some Georgia cities are not as friendly to gays as they could be.
Decatur, Avondale Estates and North Druid Hills all scored very low marks for protection, inclusion and positive policies toward LGBT citizens. This surprises Decatur City Commissioner Kecia Cunningham, who is gay. "This information does not seem to be reflective of who we are as a community," she said. Cunningham has been a city commissioner since 1999.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization, rated 137 cities across the nation. The Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the first ever rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law, found that the average score for cities in Georgia is 33 out of 100 points, which falls below the national average. Atlanta scored 82 points, Avondale Estates scored eight, Decatur scored 27, and North Druid Hills scored 15.
Key findings from the MEI create a snapshot of LGBT equality in 137 municipalities of varying sizes drawn from every state in the nation – these include the 50 state capitals, the 50 most populous cities in the country, and the 25 large, 25 mid-size, and 25 small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples.
• Eleven of the 137 cities surveyed earned a perfect score of 100 points – these cities came from both coasts and in between, were of varying sizes, and not all are in states with favorable laws for LGBT people;
• A quarter of the cities rated scored over 80 points;
• 45 percent of cites surveyed obtained a score of 60 or higher;
• Nearly a third of cities scored between 40 and 60 points, showing good intentions on behalf of municipal governments but also opportunity for improvement; and
• Just under a quarter of the cities scored less than 20 points, including eight cities that scored under ten points and three that scored zero.
The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories:
• Non-discrimination laws;
• Relationship recognition;
• The municipality's employment practices;
• Inclusiveness of city services;
• Law enforcement; and
• Municipal leadership.
The full report, including long form scorecards for every city and a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.