The City of Atlanta earned its highest-ever score on the 2019 Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, while nine other Georgia cities and areas received failing grades.
HRC released the eighth annual report on Tuesday.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (photo) celebrated the city’s score in a press release.
“Leading in the protection and advancement of civil rights is the Atlanta way, which is why we are proud to run one of the most robust municipal LGBTQ Affairs programs in the nation,” she said. “Thank you to the Human Rights Campaign for your recognition and continued support of our efforts to build One Atlanta, a city that works for all of our residents.”
It’s the seventh consecutive year that Atlanta received a perfect score on the MEI. HRC gave Atlanta an 82 when the MEI first started in 2012. The city then ran off a string of perfect scores in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Doraville made its MEI debut, outscoring every city besides Atlanta. City Councilmember Stephe Koontz is the only openly transgender elected official in Georgia. Out former City Councilmember Joseph Geierman is in a December runoff election for mayor. And the city passed a broad LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance in November 2018.
Koontz highlighted the city’s strong score on the index in a statement to Project Q Atlanta.
“I'd like to thank my fellow elected officials and city staff for their hard work and support in providing protections for the LGBTQ citizens of our city,” she said. “It's great to see Doraville being a leader in the region on this!”
The MEI scores hundreds of cities across the country in five areas – non-discrimination laws, how the city treats its LGBTQ employees, municipal services, law enforcement and relationship with the LGBTQ community.
The report scored 11 cities and geographic areas in Georgia. Some six of those cities or areas improved on last year’s scores. Their 2019 scores (2018, 2017, 2016) and links to their reports below:
- Athens-Clarke 40 (28, 33, 21)
- Atlanta 107 (105, 104, 104)
- Augusta-Richmond 28 (33, 14, 12)
- Avondale Estates 18 (18, 24, 41)
- Columbus 61 (36, 34, 38)
- Decatur 54 (45, 51, 21)
- Doraville 78
- North Druid Hills 7 (0, 6, 12)
- Roswell 5 (5, 11, 11)
- Sandy Springs 21 (17, 22, 22)
- Savannah 40 (40, 44, 44)
Columbus’ score jumped by 25 points over last year. Former Mayor Teresa Tomlinson told Project Q in May that the city’s score would improve if HRC included several recent pro-LGBTQ moves. Tomlinson is running for U.S. Senate.
Decatur’s score is sure to improve on next year’s index. The city passed a broad LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance on Monday.
HRC Executive Director Alphonso David said in a press release that cities are standing up to the anti-LGBTQ attacks of the Trump administration.
“This year’s Municipal Equality Index shows that across the country, city leaders are working tirelessly to ensure that their constituents can secure housing, make a living and participate in community life without being discriminated against because of who they are,” he said.
Other key findings from the report:
- A record 88 cities earned their highest scores ever this year
- The average score for cities has increased every year since Trump took office, from 57 in 2016 to 60 this year
- For the third year in a row, every 100-point city had LGBTQ police liaisons. Cities with LGBTQ liaisons scored nearly twice as high as cities without them.
- MEI-rated cities in every region of the U.S. experienced mean score increases