Report: Wilmington highest, Middletown lowest in LGBTQ services, protections

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Wilmington ranks highest when it comes to municipalities with policies that aid and protect the LGBTQ community, with Middletown at the bottom, a yearly index reported.

The index was released by theHuman Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer civil rights organization, in partnership with the Equality Federation Institue.

The index is the only nationwide assessment of LGBTQ equality regarding municipal policy, law, and services in 506 cities across the nation, including eight in Delaware.

The average score for Delaware cities is 54 out of 100 points, which falls below the national average of 64. (See below).

Bethany Beach
37
Dover
54
Middletown
30
Milford
69
Newark
56
Rehoboth Beach
58
Smyrna
43
Wilmington
88

“The results of this year’s Municipality Equality Index show definitive evidence that our local leaders across the nation are standing up for equality. But, there is still much more that can be done,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “There is no question that the Trump administration made every effort to attack laws aimed to protect LGBTQ people, and our cities have responded with inclusivity and innovative public policy. Although there is newfound optimism sweeping the country with the incoming Biden-Harris administration, there is still work to be done and ground to make up. Adopting the measures outlined in the MEI will not only help cultivate more united and safe communities, but it will foster economic growth by signaling to residents, visitors and outside investors that their region is welcoming to all.”

This year, 179 cities have transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits for municipal employees—up from 164 in 2019 and only five since the start of the MEI. Furthermore, 429 cities have equal employment opportunity policies that expressly include sexual orientation and/or gender identity, up by 21 since 2019. Moreover, 188 municipalities require their contractors to have employment non-discrimination policies that cover sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Other findings from the 2020 MEI include:

  • The national city score average jumped to an all-time high of 64 points, up from 60 last year, marking both the fourth consecutive year of national average increases as well as the highest year-over-year national average growth ever.
  • 35 municipalities have anti-conversion therapy ordinances in states with no state-level protections, up from 28 last year.
  • Every region of the country saw a mean city score increase this year, with the exception of the New England region, which maintained its 2019 average.

According to a release announcing the report, “Even though local leaders continue to pave the way forward on equality, there remains an unacceptable patchwork of laws for LGBTQ people across the country. This reinforces the need for the federal Equality Act that would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.”

The MEI rated 506 cities including the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the U.S., the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 75 municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state group members and supporters. It assesses each city on 49 criteria covering citywide nondiscrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement, and the city’s leadership on LGBTQ equality.

The full report, including scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.

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