by Mary Tuma
Creative Commons Images.
In an annual review of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality in cities across the country, San Antonio’s scored 86 points, going up 79 percent since last year. The recently passed LGBT non-discrimination ordinance and appointment of a City LGBT contact person likely contributed to the improvement.
The report, conducted by national LGBT civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, evaluates cities based on nearly 50 criteria under six general categories to come up with what they dub the Municipal Equality Index (MEI). Non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, municipality’s employment and contracting policies and law enforcement are factored into the grading process, according to HRC.
San Antonio received 12/18 points for its non-discrimination laws and 15/18 for municipal services. SA got a perfect 8/8 score for its relationship with the LGBT community, netting “bonus” points for having an openly LGBT appointed city leader, engaging with the LGBT community and for being “pro-equality” despite restrictive state laws (believe it or not, sodomy laws are still "on the books" in Texas.)
In its 2012 MEI, the group gave SA a below-average 48, a dismal score that resulted in direct action from the mayor’s office– at the start of the this year, the office named senior policy adviser Adam Greenup as the LGBT community liaison. “The low score was a real eye-opener for us,” Greenup told the Current in June. At the time, Greenup said he was confident this year's MEI score would reflect progress had been made in San Antonio.
Chuck Smith, executive director at Equality Texas, says municipal work around LGBT equality is “especially important” in Texas given the challenging makeup of the state legislature. He applauded San Antonio’s improved score and Austin’s perfect 100-points, but also pointed to nine Texas cities with low scores (Laredo received an abysmal 2 and Brownsville a 38) as evidence that there is “much more work to be done.”
The average score for Texas cities is 40 out of 100 points– still below the national average.
Nationwide, 25 cities received perfect scores (100 points) in 2013, an increase from last year. The average score was 57 points, with half of cities scoring more than 60 points. Some 25 percent of cities scored 35 points or less and 3.5 percent of cities scored 10 points or less.
Read the full report here: Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index 2013
Texas MEIs At A Glance:
Amarillo scored 16 points
Arlington scored 11 points
Austin scored 100 points
Brownsville scored 38 points
Corpus Christi scored 19 points
Dallas scored 85 points
El Paso scored 51 points
Fort Worth scored 91 points
Garland scored 17 points
Grand Prairie scored 21 points
Houston scored 63 points
Irving scored 16 points
Laredo scored 2 points
Lubbock scored 5 points
Plano scored 14 points
San Antonio scored 86 points