The Human Rights Campaign has released its 2015 Municipal Equality Index, a measure of how well city policies and ordinances respect the LGBT residents. Since I last reported on the MEI in 2013, Brookings has made significant progress, raising its score from 34 out of 100 to 52. Brookings keeps its spot as the leader in South Dakota for LGBT-tolerant policy… but that’s not saying a lot:
The average score for cities in South Dakota is 23 out of 100 points, which falls below the national average of 56. Aberdeen: 18, Brookings: 52, Pierre: 12, Rapid City: 22, Sioux Falls: 28, Vermillion: 15, Watertown: 18.
…“The MEI shows that overall South Dakota is not an inviting place for LGBTQ+ to live except for Brookings which has been proactive in creating a welcoming environment,” said Lawrence Novotny, board chair of Equality South Dakota. “Equality South Dakota is attempting to improve the situation in South Dakota” [Human Rights Campaign, press release, 2015.12.17].
Looks like new Sioux Falls human rights community coordinator Julie Briggs needs to drive up to Brookings and ask what policies she needs to import to the Queen City.
Sioux Falls and Brookings leaders then need to take a roadtrip to the Twin Cities. Minneapolis and St. Paul are among the 47 cities out of 408 surveyed that got perfect scores. Only three other cities in adjoining states made that perfect list: Davenport, Iowa City, and Missoula.
The Human Rights Campaign groups the 41 criteria for its MEI into five categories:
- Nondiscrimination laws;
- Municipality’s employment policies, including transgender-inclusive insurance coverage, contracting nondiscrimination requirements, and other policies relating to equal treatment of LGBT city employees;
- Inclusiveness of city services;
- Law enforcement;
- Municipal leadership on matters of equality.