The Human Rights Campaign released its 2013 Municipal Equality Index Nov. 19, and Philadelphia was one of 25 cities that received 100, the highest possible rating. It was one of just eight cities with 100 that is situated in a state without comprehensive relationship recognition or LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws.
Last year, in the first-ever MEI, Philadelphia achieved 100 points plus nine bonus points, and was the only city in the nation to achieve 100 without bonus points; this year, the system was revised so that 100 was the maximum score.
In addition to its 100, Philadelphia this year also received 13 bonus points. Seattle was the only other city to achieve 100 plus 13 bonus points.
In 2012, HRC rated 137 municipalities, with a total population of 55.8-million people. This year, the organization looked at 291 municipalities, with a total population of 77.8 million.
The MEI rated cities based on their nondiscrimination laws, law-enforcement programs, relationship recognition, employment policies, municipal services and the city’s relationship to the LGBT community.
Cities were given the opportunity to review the initial scorecards, ask questions and submit more information on their city’s LGBT-inclusive policies.
Last year, Philadelphia missed out on points for failing to offer transgender-inclusive health benefits and for not “grossing up” benefits to meet the tax burden for same-sex couples. It attained points for trans-inclusive health care this year, thanks to Councilman Jim Kenney’s legislation that provides tax credits for companies that elect to provide trans-inclusive health coverage, among its other stipulations.
The city has not yet grossed-up benefits, and bonus points were also available to cities that had to overcome a restrictive state law and for cities that had to cease their domestic-partner program because of state law.
Philadelphia was the only city in the state to receive a 100. Next was New Hope with an 89, up from last year’s 48, and Harrisburg with a 76, the same as last year. New to the MEI was Pittsburgh with a 72, State College with a 63 and Allentown with a 50.
The MEI found that 33 million people living in MEI-rated cities had better municipal laws than state laws for the LGBT community. Also among the findings was that 58 percent of cities have relationship recognition for same-sex couples and only 5 percent offer trans-inclusive healthcare benefits.
For more information, visit www.hrc.org/campaigns/municipal-equality-index.