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Brookings Aces Municipal Equality Index by Welcoming Everyone

Brookings just keeps getting better. After years of leading South Dakota on the Human Rights Commission’s Municipal Equality Index, Brookings has now achieved the top MEI of 100.

Human Rights Campaign, Municipal Equality Index 2018, p. 69.
Human Rights Campaign, Municipal Equality Index 2018, p. 69.

Brookings joined 77 other American cities achieving that top score even as HRC toughened its scoring criteria. Under those tougher criteria, Vermillion, Mitchell, Sioux Falls, and Watertown still gained, but Pierre and Rapid City stayed the same and Aberdeen and Spearfish regressed. And even in bullying Trumpistan, the national average MEI rose from 57 to 58.

Brookings made enough progress to win Mayor Keith Corbett a full page in the report to explain his small town’s success:

It’s not often being in first place is a disappointment. However, when Brookings first appeared on the MEI scorecard in 2013, we truly were disappointed. We had the highest score of any city in South Dakota, but that was an embarrassingly low score of 34. The Brookings Human Rights Committee felt strongly that this score did not reflect the values of our community, nor did it send the right message to those considering Brookings as a place to live, work, and play. So, we set out to improve both our score and our message.

Over the next four years, we made steady improvements. The city took the lead in the state being first to create LGBTQ law enforcement liaisons, city administration liaisons, and to offer transgender healthcare benefits to its employees. Our score increased each year, reaching a high of 72 in 2017. Along the way, the Human Rights Committee became the Human Rights Commission. In February 2017, the Commission presented a Resolution of Inclusivity to the City Council for consideration. The resolution passed unanimously, with specific direction from the Council that the words of the resolution were not enough and that Brookings must act to give the words meaning. “I was so proud when resolution 17-022 passed,” Brookings Mayor Keith Corbett said. “However, I thought, why stop there? Brookings can do more. We need to challenge ourselves to find what more the community can do to ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and embrace the mosaic of diverse residents and visitors in Brookings.”

Empowered by this direction, the Commission worked with the City Attorney to draft what would be the first comprehensive LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance in the state. The Commission presented the ordinance to the Council for consideration in September 2017. The Council passed this landmark legislation on a unanimous vote. This brave action by the Council catapulted Brookings to the first perfect 100 MEI score in South Dakota and sent a message to the world that Brookings is truly a place where you can bring your dreams [Mayor Keith W. Corbett, HRC Municipal Equality Index 2018, p. 18].

“[T]his score did not… send the right message to those considering Brookings as a place to live, work, and play.” That sounds a lot like what I said to the Aberdeen Realtors luncheon last week about welcoming everybody for economic development’s sake.

Mayor Corbett recognizes that including everyone in community life is more than just a way to boost our community’s economy. He understands that welcoming everyone is a moral mandate inherent in South Dakota values.


  1. mike from iowa 2018-10-22 10:33

    Slightly OT, has anyone noticed the Drumpf fauxknee kristian cabal is going to remove transgender from our Lexicon so they can freely discriminate against US citizens for no other reasons than religious bigotry.

    And there is more-

    This is a pre-emptive case. They have had no suits filed against them, but they want to make sure equality runs only so far- to the kinds of people they prefer. The 8th Circuit is stocked with wingnuts and will probably vote for the plaintiffs.

  2. Debbo 2018-10-22 15:47

    Congratulations to Brookings! What a wonderful thing to do for the citizens.

    Mike, there is simply no limit to the depraved cruelty of @#$%&%$#!@$$* in the White House.

  3. mike from iowa 2018-10-22 17:18

    So the town of Orange City, iowa, which is reformed Dutch too much, had a Pride Day celebration to show remarkable acceptance for those different from the run of the mill citizens. Then this pool of dog vomit shows up and goes all Drumpfy on liberry books from the public liberry.

    I believe destroying public liberry books is a capital offense or, at least, it should be. Whose books would jeebus burn?

  4. Porter Lansing 2018-10-23 12:13

    After waiting all day for a comment, it appears Schoenbeck cares little about Watertown’s abysmal rating. Remember when Watertown competed with Brookings for honors and recognition for good neighborliness, hospitality and tolerance? Watertown is no longer within the “top cities of SD” rankings. Brookings and Madison have gone on by and aren’t looking back. Under Schoenbeck, Tapio and Deutsch it’s become just an enclave of two group’s fundamentalist, extremist religious dogma and domination. (No wonder so many people have become Episcopalian!) Might as well vote for Evangelical Sharia. It’s already there in it’s wacko Christian version.

  5. jerry 2018-10-23 13:28

    On a roll Porter, on a roll. “Evangelical Sharia” on fake Dead Sea Scrolls, idiots are born again every minute.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-23 22:47

    Terrible to think that Schoenbeck is the most pragmatic and rational of those three. He is a definite improvement over Tapio, whom we can only hope will go back to Minneapolis or Saudi Arabia and find some nice equipment to sell.

  7. Porter Lansing 2018-10-23 23:02

    It’s always been said in Watertown that Lee cares more about Webster and how he’s judged at church than he cares about the citizens of H2Otown. Follow the money. (Same with Deutsch.)

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