Houston fails again on LGBT equality efforts

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When it comes to being progressively perfect, Houston fails. Again. The city received a failing scored for its LGBT equality efforts and lags behind other municipalities in Texas. 

It's tough medicine for gay Houston to swallow. It's still smarting from the overwhelming defeat of HERO last month. On Thursday, HRC's 2015 Municipal Equality Index showed just how much work the city has to do on LGBT issues – giving it a 48. That's lower than even past flops when Houston scored a 54 in 2014 and a 63 in 2013. Lone Star Q first reported on the 64-page report early Thursday before it went public.

HRC invested heavily to defend HERO, but on Nov. 3 voters rejected it 63 percent to 37 percent amidst an “ugly wad of lies” from opponents. HRC invested heavily in defending the non-discrimination ordinance and its president, Chad Griffin, says HERO's defeat provides a warning to other cities.

“This has been a historic year for equality. Yet, even as we celebrate a major victory for nationwide marriage equality at the U.S. Supreme Court and unprecedented visibility for transgender Americans over the last year, we are surrounded by reminders of how far we still have to go,” Griffin says in the report.

“There is perhaps no starker example of those challenges than Houston, Texas – a city that saw the repeal of a city ordinance protecting LGBT people from discrimination. Had the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) not been repealed, Houston’s score would have been 77 this year, not 48. I hope that what happened in Houston is a wake-up call to other cities around the nation. The tragic repeal of HERO should inspire us to double-down and work harder than ever before.” Griffin adds.

Some 23 Texas cities were ranked, with scores ranging from Austin's 100 to 0 in College Station. Across the state just two cities – Austin and Dallas – scored a perfect 100. Two others – Fort Worth (99) and San Antonio (90) – came close. But four cities failed to earn any points – College Station, Irving, Lubbock and Mesquite.

The Texas cities, their scores and links to their reports:

In November, three companies based in Houston earned a perfect score on HRC's Corporate Equality Index.

HRC's report scores municipalities on dozens of criteria across five broad categories, including non-discrimination laws, how the city treats its LGBT employees, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and city leadership on equality issues. 

The 2015 report rated some 408 cities across the country, an addition of 55 cities from past years. It includes the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities, five largest cities in each state, the cities home to the state's two largest public university and 75 others that have high proportions of same-sex couples.

The report also applauds what it calls the “explosive growth” in cities offering trans-inclusive health care to city employees, a number that reached 66 in 2015, according to the report.


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