Milwaukee Scores 100 on the 2018 Municipal Equality Index
They say the wheels of justice turn slowly, and often it feels as if that turn is nearly imperceptible. So how can we gauge whether our society and our communities are becoming more just? One way to measure this progress is through the Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation Institute’s Municipal Equality Index.
The Municipal Equality Index (MEI) rates municipalities of varying sizes drawn from every state in the nation on 5 categories related to LGBTQ rights. The report examines a city’s non-discrimination laws, whether the city is inclusive of LGBTQ persons in its employment practices, whether its services are LGBTQ-friendly, it examines the city’s law enforcement policies and procedures, and whether or not a city displays leadership around LGBTQ issues.
On Thursday Oct. 11 (which not-so-coincidentally was National Coming Out Day), members of Milwaukee’s Equal Rights Commission, Fair Wisconsin, FORGE, and several community organizations joined Milwaukee’s Mayor Tom Barrett and Human Right Campaign’s President, Chad Griffin, at City Hall to celebrate the release of the 2018 MEI and the fact that Milwaukee had achieved a perfect score. Out of 506 rated municipalities, only 77 – including Milwaukee and Madison — scored a 100 on the index.
To earn the perfect score a city had to have non-discrimination laws in employment, housing, and public accommodations, offer transgender-inclusive health benefits to its workers, have an LGBTQ Liaison in the city’s executive office and its police department, support pro-equality legislation, and more. Milwaukee’s score was raised this year due to the recent ban on conversion therapies, improvements to the Milwaukee Police Department’s Policies when interacting with members of the Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming and Intersex communities, and the new Municipal ID that allows for non-binary gender makers.
Speaking after the press conference the head of the Equal Right Commission, Chez Ordonez, called the MEI, “A great achievement…and step forward.” Ordonez also said, “This isn’t the end. Just because we got a 100 doesn’t mean we stop increasing more protections. It’s just another step in that long process. So, we celebrate today for increased LGBTQ protections, equity and inclusiveness, but it’s not the end.”