Report: NH Behind National Average When It Comes to Protection, Support for LGBTQ Residents
A report from the Human Rights Campaign found that 10 New Hampshire communities extend vital protections and services to their LGBTQ community members, but that New Hampshire communities as a whole fall below the national average.
The Human Rights Campaign's sixth annual Municipal Equality Index assessed LGBTQ equality in 506 "cities" across the nation, including 10 in New Hampshire, on a 100-point scale. Because of the methodology used to select communities, some on the list aren't actual cities.
The index is the only nationwide rating system of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal law and policy.
The HRC said the most recent index shows that cities across the country, including in New Hampshire, are leading in supporting LGBTQ people and workers despite renewed attacks this year on the LGBTQ community by federal and state officials.
The national average score is 57, and the HRC said that the average score for New Hampshire's communities is 44.
New Hampshire communities that topped the list were Durham (74), Dover (49), Portsmouth (48), Derry (45) and Keene (44). Concord, Manchester and Rochester all tied at 39, while Plymouth (33) and Nashua (28) brought up the rear.
HRC President Chad Griffin said the MEI is an important economic tool for businesses and governments alike.
“This year’s MEI paints a vivid picture: Cities big and small, in red and blue states alike, are continuing our progress toward full equality, regardless of the political drama unfolding in Washington, D.C., and in state legislatures across the country,” Griffin said. “Today, the MEI serves as a vital tool for business leaders and municipal officials alike when it comes to economic development."
He said that CEOs know they must grow their companies in places that protect LGBTQ citizens from discrimination in order to aquire and retain the best employees.
The HRC said that legal protections and benefits for LGBTQ Americans vary widely depending on location because states and cities have markedly different laws governing discrimination.
Twenty states have non-discrimination laws that include protections for LGBTQ people in employment, and 19 states have laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in places of public accommodation. Since the MEI’s debut in 2012, the number of cities earning perfect scores has increased by more than sixfold, and today at least 24 million people live in cities that have more comprehensive, transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws than their state.
Progress on transgender equality has been particularly strong in cities across America this year, continuing a positive trend that the MEI has tracked since 2012. Transgender-inclusive health care benefits are offered to employees of 111 municipalities this year — up from 86 in 2016, 66 in 2015 and only five in 2012.
Other Key Findings
Eighty-six cities from states without comprehensive nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people scored above the national average of 57 points, and 28 of those cities scored a perfect 100.
The HRC said other cities continue to excel even in the absence of inclusive state laws. 41 cities in states without comprehensive non-discrimination laws scored above 85 points, up from 37 last year, 31 in 2016, eight in 2013, and two in 2012.
The MEI rated 506 cities including the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the U.S., the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, communities that are home to each state’s two largest public universities, municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state group members and supporters.
It assesses each city on 44 criteria covering citywide nondiscrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement, and city leadership’s relationship with the LGBTQ community.
Starting in 2018, the HRC said the MEI will introduce new criteria including protecting youth from “conversion therapy” and will also deduct points for religious exemptions that allow discrimination by singling out LGBTQ people.