When it comes to equality and inclusiveness, Phoenix gets perfect marks.
The City of Phoenix received a high score of 100 on the Municipal Equality Index, a comprehensive scorecard that rates the fairness of a city’s laws, benefits and services. The index is administered to the nation’s largest cities each year by the Human Rights Campaign, a national civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
The Municipal Equality Index evaluated 291 cities nationwide, examining non-discrimination protections, relationship recognition, employment, services and overall rapport with the LGBT community. Only 10 percent of the cities evaluated scored 96 or better, and Phoenix was one of 25 cities to achieve perfection.
Phoenix earned a score of 70 in 2012, and is the most improved city to earn a perfect score this year.
“The perception that Phoenix wasn’t as open as it possibly could be to all people was a challenge for us,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “But we are continuing to be as ‘pro-people’ as possible.”
Earlier this year, the Phoenix City Council passed a sweeping non-discrimination ordinance that expanded protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or disability for the purposes of employment, public accommodations, housing and government contracts.
“Phoenix could not have become the sixth-largest city in America were it not an open-minded and welcoming place,” said Steve Moore, president and CEO of Visit Phoenix. “The visitor industry embraces this spirit of inclusion, and also benefits from it. Our convention center has hosted more than a million delegates who seek out destinations that celebrate diversity.”
Phoenix officials celebrated the city’s perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign with an event in the sunlit Phoenix City Hall atrium. In attendance were leaders from large Phoenix-based companies such as PetSmart, as well as representatives from locally owned small businesses.
“An acknowledgement like this is truly astounding,” said Kimber Lanning, executive director at Local First Arizona, a nonprofit collective representing more than 2,500 locally owned businesses. “We have such beautiful, glorious diversity in this state.”
With more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide, the Human Rights Campaign is the largest civil rights organization in the U.S. that advocates on behalf of LGBT citizens. Its annual Municipal Equality Index evaluated the 150 largest cities in the United States, 50 state capitals, the three largest municipalities in each state, and 75 cities that have high proportions of same-sex couples. The average score, on a scale of 100, was 57.