HRC gives Salt Lake top ranking

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In its annual Municipal Equality Index, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation gave Salt Lake City a top ranking of 100. The MEI is an assessment of LGBTQ+ equality within municipal policies, laws, and services. This year, a record-breaking 110 cities earned the highest score of 100, which is up from 11 in 2012, the MEI’s inaugural year. In a statement, HRC says that growth illustrates “the striking advancements municipalities have made over the past ten years.”

“In reflecting on the Municipal Equality Index’s 10-year history, it feels as though these past few years have been the most challenging, and yet the most critical, to advancing LGBTQ+ equality,” wrote Fran Hutchins, Executive Director of Equality Federation Institute, that co-authored the report. “Despite the increasing attacks we are seeing on transgender youth in state legislatures, the important work to advance protections for LGBTQ+ people continues at the local level. As we face the upcoming attacks by opponents of equality, we know the state-based movement is stronger than ever and ready to fight for the millions of LGBTQ+ Americans who need us in the towns and cities across this country.”

Last year, Salt Lake City only scored a 75 ranking in the Index. This year, HRC introduced “Flex Points” to a city’s scores for such things as elected LGBTQ+ leaders in city government. Without the extra points, Salt Lake would have received a score of 86, since there is no public accommodations ordinance, lack of an enforcement mechanism in the city’s Human Rights Commission, etc.

Park City received the state’s next-highest score at 75. HRC cited the lack of a public accommodations ordinance protecting LGBTQ+ people, the lack of transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits for city employees, and the lack of a city Human Rights Commission, among other items. The city did, however, double its previous year’s score of 37.

“Park City has long been an inclusive and welcoming town for the LGBTQ+ community, but we took our MEI score last year as a challenge to make sure we not only better highlighted what practices were already in place, but we also explored new efforts through the work of the LGBTQ+ Task Force,” said Mayor Andy Beerman.

Park City ranked highest when compared to mountain towns across the west.

“As co-chair of the Park City LGBTQ+ Task Force and a proud transwoman, we are thrilled that Park City’s MEI score doubled from last year,” said Cami Richardson. “This is indicative of the progress we are making as leaders in the state as a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.” 

Ogden received a score of 58, the same as last year’s score. West Valley City and Logan repeated their 2020 scores at 48. Provo dropped to a score of 40 from last year’s 52 primarily because it did not report its hate crime statistics to the FBI. The two lowest scores in the state went to West Jordan at 36 and Orem at 22 — both the same as last year’s scores. Orem only received points because it is within the state of Utah, which has non-discrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people in employment and housing and a ban on so-called conversion therapy.

The report can be found at hrc.org/mei or by clicking the city names in this article.

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