CHICAGO — The Human Rights Campaign released its annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI) this week. The index rates the largest cities in each state on local laws and policies for LGBTQ. In Illinois, Chicago came in as the most friendly city in the state while Naperville, the fifth largest in the state and one of the largest in the Chicago metro region, came in last.
A record 68 cities earned perfect scores for advancing LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices — up from 60 in 2016, 47 in 2015 and 11 in 2012, the first year of the MEI. Chicago was the only city in the state to get 100. Naperville was the only city to score below 50.
The MEI rated 506 cities including the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the United States, the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 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 44 criteria covering citywide nondiscrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement, and city leadership’s relationship with the LGBTQ community. Starting in 2018, the MEI will introduce new criteria including protecting youth from “conversion therapy” and will deduct points for religious exemptions that allow discrimination by singling out LGBTQ people.
Illinois cities and their scores are:
- Chicago – 100
- Aurora – 79
- Champaign – 79
- Joliet – 78
- Peoria – 67
- Springfield – 65
- Rockford – 61
- Carbondale – 50
- Naperville – 42
“Our movement is stronger and more united than ever, and we stand in resistance to the unprecedented attacks on all our communities,” said Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director of the Equality Federation Institute, in a statement. “This report is a proven, powerful tool for local advocates to leverage in their efforts to win full equality at the local level, and serves as a reminder that we aren’t going back, despite a most hostile federal administration and organized opposition.”