WASHINGTON, DC (WTVM) - The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transponder, or LGBT, civil rights organization, released its third annual report on Wednesday, assessing LGBT equality in 353 cities across the nation, including eight in Georgia.
The 2014 Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the only nationwide rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law and policy, shows that cities across the country, including in Georgia, continue to take the lead in supporting LGBT people and workers, even when states and the federal government have not.
The average score for cities in Georgia is 39 out of 100 points, the national average is 59. Georgia cities scored as follows:
- Athens: 46
- Atlanta: 100
- Augusta: 10
- Columbus: 21
- Decatur: 46
- Savannah: 18
''From Mississippi to Idaho, mid-size cities and small towns have become the single greatest engine of progress for LGBT equality - changing countless lives for the better,'' HRC President Chad Griffin said. ''Simply put, in this country there is an ongoing race to the top to treat all people, including LGBT people, fairly under the law, and it's time our state and federal laws to catch up.''
The cities researched for the 2014 MEI include the 50 state capitals, the 200 most populous cities in the country, the four largest cities in every state, the city home to each state's largest public university, and an equal mix of 75 of the nation's large, mid-size and small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples.
Thirty-eight cities earned perfect 100-point scores, up from 25 in 2013. Atlanta earned a 100-point score, helping to set a standard of LGBT inclusiveness with exemplary policies ranging from non-discrimination laws and equal employee benefits, to cutting edge city services.
The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under the following six broad categories:
- Non-discrimination laws
- Relationship recognition
- Municipality's employment policies, contracting non-discrimination requirements, and other policies relating to equal treatment of LGBT city employees
- Inclusiveness of city services
- Law enforcement
- Municipal leadership on matters of equality