Represent!

Politics, government and public life for Southern California

These California cities scored best and worst for LGBT-friendly policies

Long Beach's Robert Garcia is the first openly gay mayor of the city. Garcia, as councilman and now mayor, helped to boost Long Beach's ranking on LBGT-friendly policies to a perfect 100 this year.
Long Beach's Robert Garcia is the first openly gay mayor of the city. Garcia, as councilman and now mayor, helped to boost Long Beach's ranking on LBGT-friendly policies to a perfect 100 this year. Robert Garcia

Six California cities received perfect scores for having the best policies and laws for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents and employees.

Long Beach, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego, San Francisco and West Hollywood each scored  100 on the 2014 Municipal Equality Index. The index compares  the nation's 200 largest cities, all state capitals and cities with high proportions of same-sex couples.

Two national LGBT civil rights organizations, The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and  Equality Federation Institute, publish the list.

For Long Beach, which recently elected its first openly gay mayor, the city repeated last year's showing with the maximum possible 100 points, said Josh Steichmann, spokesman for Equality California, a civil rights group that helped collect data for the list.

"The first big place that Long Beach gained points was in updating their city non-discrimination policy to include gender identity, ensuring that transgender employees were covered," Steichmann siad. "The second big place they improved was in adding transgender coverage to the city's health care plans."

The city now also offers specific LGBT youth programs through the city-funded Center for Families and Youth, he said. Having LGBT people in visible leadership positions helps a city's ranking as well. Garcia recently joined the governing board of Equality California.

The list is not meant to be a list of the best places for LGBT people to live, because it only evaluates policies, and does not do surveys on quality of life, Steichmann said.

The five California cities scoring the poorest were:

  • Brisbane -- 51 points
  • Bakersfield -- 54
  • Oceanside -- 57
  • Fullerton -- 58
  • Hayward -- 58

The annual listing looks at cities' policies on non-discrimination of LGBT people, whether they recognize gay and lesbian relationships, their employment policies, services and programs, law enforcement and the cities' relationship with the LGBT community. It also looks at whether cities require contractors to also have non-discrimination policies.

Cities that recruit LGBT employees, conduct diversity training and that have an affinity group for LGBT workers got bonus points. Palm Springs and San Francisco each got 16 bonus points, the highest number among the top six cities.

Fullerton came up short in a couple of areas. It received no credit for cultivating relationships with the LGBT community, and it received only partial credit for services for LGBT people and the city's employment practices.

A city would receive full credit if it extended domestic partner benefits, legal dependent benefits and equivalent family leave to LGBT employees and their families. The cities were also judged on whether they offer transgender health care insurance coverage to employees and family members.

 

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