Detroit earns perfect score in group’s LGBT-friendly cities report
Detroit is among 47 cities nationwide that earned perfect scores in a civil rights group’s annual report assessing how communities treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents, officials announced Thursday.
Michigan’s largest city earned 100 points for the first time in the 2015 Municipal Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. In 2014, the score was 74.
The MEI rated 408 U.S. cities — including nine in Michigan — based on 41 criteria under five categories: non-discrimination laws; employment policies; inclusiveness of city services; law enforcement; and municipal leadership on equality issues, group officials said in a statement Thursday.
Detroit was among 31 municipalities that earned HRC’s “All Star” designations for having “excelled on matters of LGBT equality without relying on state law,” the statement read.
In a news release Thursday, city officials cited several recent efforts that highlight a commitment to inclusion, including City Council’s passage of ordinances strengthening non-discrimination protections; the Detroit Police Department’s appointment of Officer Danni Woods as its first LGBTQ liaison; and a requirement that all appointees, managers, and supervisors attend training classes on the city’s non-discrimination policy.
Mayor Mike Duggan has also “issued an executive order that clarifies and strengthens the City’s employment practices regarding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” as well as designated Detroit’s general services director and Board of Human Rights/Ethics commissioner as LGBTQ liaisons, according to the statement.
“Detroit is a welcoming city, where opportunity is available for everyone,” Duggan said. “We will continue to expand our policies and strengthen our connection with the LGBTQ community to build a stronger city that all of us are proud to call home.”
East Lansing also earned a perfect 100-point score in the HRC analysis for the second consecutive year, officials said. Ferndale scored 97; Ann Arbor, 77; and Grand Rapids, 76.
The average score for Michigan cities was 69 — above the national average, 56, according to the group.
Those findings, along with 41 Michigan municipalities now having policies aimed at protecting LGBT people from discrimination, suggest “that city leaders are understanding the benefit to creating a more competitive environment and more welcoming and vibrant city when they’re more LGBT-friendly,” said Stephanie White, executive director at Equality Michigan, an advocacy group.
Still, she cautioned that without state lawmakers updating the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which addresses discrimination in the workplace, to include sexual orientation and gender identity, “patchwork protections” remain, she said. “It’s not enough to protect the most vulnerable people in our state — namely transgender people are still subjected to high levels of violence, including the three murders of trans people that have happened in Detroit this year.
“We still have work to do and a ways to go, but this report and the trend of these cities, I think, shows great promise and that there’s no risk, only benefit, to passing non-discrimination laws and becoming LGBT-friendly.”