Thursday, November 13, 2014

Iowa City Earns 100 out of 100 on the 2014 Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index!

I wrote last year about Iowa City scoring a 90 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index. They looked at 291 cities from across the nation seeking a variety of factors -- including Non-Discrimination Laws, Relationship Recognition, Municipality as an Employer, Municipal Services, Law Enforcement, and Relationship with the LGBT Community -- and established scores for each of these communities.

I learned earlier today that the HRC examined 353 American cities from each of the states and came up with new scores for this year. Iowa City ended up scoring 100 out of 100 for the 2014 HRC Municipal Equality Index. Check this out:

Iowa City earned perfect scores when it came to Non-Discrimination Laws, Relationship Recognition, Municipal Services, and (beginning this year) Law Enforcement. We earned lower scores for Municipality as an Employer and Relationship with the LGBT Community, but made up for these lower scores with bonus points for items such line-items as Inclusive Workplace, Non-Discrimination Ordinance enforcement by Commission/Executive, City providers services to/supports LGBT youth, City provides services to/supports LGBT elderly, City provides services to/ supports people living with HIV/AIDS, and Openly LGBT elected or appointed municipal leaders.

As noted above, we made strides this year with Law Enforcement by adding an LGBT Police Liaison. Unfortunately, we lost points this year under Municipality as Employer by losing something we had last year (City Contractor Equal Benefits Ordinance) and because the HRC added something new that we don't have (Transgender-Inclusive Healthcare Benefits).

Still, 100 is still 100 and that is an improvement over our 2013 score!

In contrast, nearby Cedar Rapids earned a score of 68, Davenport earned an 86, Sioux City earned a 61, and Des Moines earned an 85. These are all dips from last year (except for Sioux City, which wasn't rated in 2013).

By the way, I was interviewed this afternoon by a writer from the Iowa City Press-Citizen about Iowa City's 2014 Municipal Equality Index rating and provided both my reaction and a recommendation for the city:
Iowa City resident Jon Trouten said he is not surprised Iowa City ranked so high on the index. In the 20 years he has lived here as an openly gay man, Trouten said he hasn’t experienced problems over his sexuality in the workplace, in housing, in social relationships “or even in faith relationships.”

Trouten said a good next step for Iowa City government, however, would be to provide transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits for city employees and to continue to expand communication with the local transgender community.
Unfortunately, there continues to be unique health care access challenges for transgender individuals in this community, though there have been efforts to make improvements.

I also very briefly complimented the city and the county for its efforts through the Visibility Action Team to improve services and advocacy towards local LGBT seniors during the interview, but that didn't make the cut.

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