The Human Rights Campaign has released their 2014 Municipal Equality Index. Five Tennessee cities were rated. Let's take a look at how they performed this year.
What are we to make of the results? The first thing we should note is that it is difficult moving equality measures in cities in the South. Some Southern cities with perfect scores of 100 include Atlanta, Orlando, Austin, and St. Petersburg. Nashville outperformed all cities in the following Southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. The implication is that it is difficult but possible to advance equality in our cities.
Two additional factors should be noted about Tennessee. First, we have state laws barring our cities from passing contractor non-discrimination ordinances or ordinances that apply sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination standards on the private sector. In addition, cities are forbidden by state law from requiring contractors to change their insurance policies to include partner benefits. Second, even when cities move forward sometimes a majority of those showing up at the polls resist these changes, as we saw in Chattanooga this year.
TEP will continue to work through our regional committees to advance equality in our local governments across the state. We welcome partnerships with leaders in local governments who are interested in moving forward. Contact us at [email protected] to see how we can help.