Missouri cities score well in LGBT study
St. Louis and Kansas City are two of 25 cities to get a perfect score on the 2013 Municipal Equality Index. The MEI is conducted by the Human Rights Campaign, which works for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.
The MEI is the nation’s only rating system of LGBT inclusion. The study looked at 291 cities across the nation, including five in Missouri, rating each city with a score of one through 100. Cathryn Oakley is the author of the index. She said she is very impressed with Missouri
“One of the really great things about this project is that it really highlights the hard work that cities are doing, and I think having two 100-point cities in Missouri is a really big deal,” She said.
Oakley also said she has worked closely with PROMO, a Missouri statewide organization advocating LGBT equality. Katie Stuckenschneider is a spokesperson with PROMO. She said Missouri is one of three states to have two cities reach a perfect score. But the other two states, California and Massachusetts, have marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections statewide.
“We don’t have either of those in Missouri, so it’s really big for us that both St. Louis and Kansas City scored so well,” Stuckenschneider said.
The study also looked at Columbia, Jefferson City and Springfield. Columbia scored 74 while Jefferson City and Springfield scored 12 and 37 respectively. But the Executive Director of Missourians for Equality Aaron Malin said these numbers don’t always reflect a city’s real atmosphere.
“I think that the index scores have value, but I don’t think that they are the Bible of LGBT equality,” Malin said.
Malin said the data are more to show the progress being made in each city and also to identify certain trends. But Oakley said it can also give people in the LGBT community a perspective on which cities take marriage equality more seriously.
“For an LGBT who is looking at moving to Missouri, I think these numbers are something that they are going to really want to take a long look at when they decide where they’re going to want to go,” Oakley said.
This is the second edition of the Municipal Equality Index. Oakley says she hopes to include even more cities in next years’ edition.
This story originally aired as part of Business Beat, a weekly program about business and economics in mid-Missouri.