When it comes to LGBT equality efforts, the City of Atlanta is an overachiever. That's the takeaway from a new report on its LGBT equality efforts. The rest of Georgia? Not so much.
Atlanta received a 104 on HRC's 2016 Municipal Equality Index, an annual ranking released on Monday, bettering its perfect score of 100 that the city received in 2015, 2014 and 2013. Nine other cities and geographic areas across Georgia failed. Miserably.
The glowing report for Atlanta comes a week after Mayor Kasim Reed again took part in the city's Pride parade, along with city employees, police and firefighters. And just a few weeks after Reed appointed the first-ever transgender person to the Atlanta Citizen Review Board.
Reed was quick to point out that once again, Atlanta bested every other city in Georgia on LGBT equality efforts.
“I am very proud of the City of Atlanta’s fourth consecutive perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index,” Reed said in a prepared statement.
“My administration has worked to make sure our policies and practices speak to our values. Our performance shows that our work is making a difference to Atlanta’s LGBT community, and setting the standard for cities in the Southeast," Reed added.
Little wonder then that several companies, law firms and financial institutions based in Atlanta also score perfectly on HRC's Corporate Equality Index and take the lead on transgender access to restrooms.
As Atlanta notched a more than perfect score, other cities across Georgia didn't fare so well. The 2016 report graded 10 cities and neighborhoods, which is two more than a year earlier, and added Roswell and Sandy Springs for the first time.
Cities and geographic areas ranked in the report, their 2016 scores, (2015 and 2014) and links to their reports:
- Athens 21 (19, 46)
- Atlanta 104 (100, 100)
- Augusta-Richmond 12 (12, 10)
- Avondale Estates 41 (41, 48)
- Columbus 38 (40, 21)
- Decatur 21 (28, 46)
- North Druid Hills 12 (12, 11)
- Roswell 11
- Sandy Springs 22
- Savannah 44 (19, 18)
Atlanta was among 60 cities across the U.S. that earned perfect scores on the index, up from 47 a year ago, according to the Human Rights Campaign. HRC President Chad Griffin said that shows cities are at the forefront of LGBT equality efforts.
“This year, dozens of cities across the nation showed they are willing to stand up for LGBTQ people in their communities even when state governments are not,” Griffin said in a prepared statement.
“This builds on a trend we have long observed: that local governments are at the forefront of our fight for equality. Unfortunately, our opponents have witnessed this progress too, and in recent years, anti-LGBTQ lawmakers have pushed spiteful legislation aimed at pre-empting local protections. That’s why it’s so important that we continue to not only fight for equality at the state and local levels, but to enact comprehensive federal protections for LGBTQ people under the Equality Act," Griffin added.
The Equality Act would bar discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity by amending existing federal laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat, applauded the legislation when it was introduced in 2015. As for Georgia's two senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, fat chance.
The Municipal Equality Index rated 506 cities on 44 criteria over five broad categories, including non-discrimination law, employment practices, the inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and municipal leadership on equality issues.