League of California Cities

15 California cities receive perfect score on 2020 Municipal Equality Index

The Human Rights Campaign, in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute, released its 2020 Municipal Equality Index (MEI), reflecting the largest number of top-scoring cities on the nationwide assessment of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal law, policy, and services. The 2020 MEI includes 15 California cities that received a maximum score of 100: Berkeley, Cathedral City, Chula Vista, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Oceanside, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood.

Three California cities increased their score from the 2019 Municipal Equality Index. Berkeley and Cathedral City previously scored 96 and Riverside had the biggest jump moving up from 91 in 2019.

“I am inspired by all the people in the city who worked to reach a score of 100,” said Riverside Council Member Erin Edwards. “A year ago, department heads, my office, and the city manager’s office met to analyze our 2019 score. Everyone around the table agreed that we needed to actively strive for the best possible results for LGBTQ equity in 2020, and we did! We celebrate reaching 100 in 2020, and we know that we still have areas for growth. The city remains committed to this work in the years to come.”

The Municipal Equality Index examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there. Cities were rated on the following criteria:
 
  • Non-discrimination laws: is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity prohibited by the city, county, or state in areas of employment, housing, and public accommodation.
  • Municipality as an employer: does the city offer equivalent benefits and protections to LGBTQ employees, award contracts to fair-minded businesses, and take steps to ensure an inclusive workplace.
  • Municipal services: does the city work to ensure LGBTQ constituents are included in city services and programs.
  • Law enforcement: is there responsible reporting of hate crimes and engagement with the LGBTQ community in a thoughtful and respectful way.
  • City leadership's public position on equality: is the city leadership committed to fully include the LGBTQ community and to advocate for full equality.
“Receiving the Human Rights Campaign’s highest recognition confirms our city’s commitment to equality,” said Cathedral City Mayor John Aguilar. “Throughout our history, Cathedral City has been a safe haven for the LGBTQ community to live, work, and visit and that is why my husband and I call it home.”

The 2020 MEI reflects the largest number of top-scoring U.S. municipalities in its nine-year history. There were 94 U.S. cities that received a maximum score of 100 points, 15 of which are in California.

“Long Beach is proud to be recognized for our commitment to diversity and inclusion for the LGBTQ community,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “This community is, and always will be, a place where everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can live, work, love, and thrive.”

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans. The Equality Federation Institute is the movement builder and strategic partner to state-based organizations advancing equality for LGBTQ people in the communities across the country.

This story was featured in the Cal Cities Advocate newsletter on Jan. 6, 2021.
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