Cleveland Earned a Perfect Score on the Human Rights Campaign's 2018 Municipal Equality Index

click to enlarge ERIC SANDY / SCENE
Eric Sandy / Scene
Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community in Cleveland has been getting better and better every day.

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality) released their annual report on municipal equality in cities across the country.

This year, a record-setting 78 cities across the nation earned perfect scores, meeting the most demanding and pioneering criteria since the report’s debut in 2012. The Municipal Equality Index (MEI) is the only nationwide rating system of LGBTQ+ inclusion in municipal law, policy and services. In 2018, Cleveland has joined the ranks as one of the 78 perfect score cities.

New benchmarks were implemented in the MEI this year, including equal access to single-user facilities in public spaces, as well as protecting LGBTQ youth from bullying in city services and from dangerous so-called “conversion therapy.” Additionally, the MEI deducted points this year for laws that include provisions licensing discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.

Despite the intense new requirements, a record 78 cities earned perfect scores for advancing LGBTQ-inclusive laws and policies — up from 68 in 2017 and 11 in 2012, the first year of the MEI. In 2017, Cleveland earned a score of 81, meaning we as a city have jumped 19 points in just one calendar year.

According to the report, Cleveland is lacking in transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits, but the points docked from this category were made up with bonus points earned for transgender services available by the city, having elected openly LGBTQ+ leaders (here's looking at you, Ward 3 Cleveland City Councilman, Kerry McCormack, and Rep. Nickie Antonio) and for the city offering domestic partner benefits.

Mayor Frank Jackson's appointment of Kevin Schmotzer, Cleveland's first LGBTQ+ liason, earned the city a whopping five points that we've never had until this year. Cleveland's dedication to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ youth, bullying prevention, HIV/AIDS treatment availability and the city's pro-LGBTQ+ legislation were all major players in earning Cleveland's perfect score.

For comparison, the Ohio cities featured included Akron (100), Cincinnati (100), Columbus (100), Dayton (100), Dublin (31), Lakewood (85) and Toledo (100).

Cleveland scored higher than Lakewood on the LGBTQ+ municipal equality index. Take that, stereotypes about our suburbs!

The national average is a score of 58, meaning Cleveland is absolutely crushing it in terms of protecting and providing opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community. Cleveland is also considered one of 46 "all star" cities, as we continue to excel even in the absence of inclusive state laws.

HRC's MEI rated 506 cities including the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the United States, the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 75 municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state group members and supporters.

The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available by clicking here