Cincinnati receives perfect score on equality index

Nov 12, 2014

Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati's first openly gay City Councilmember, holds the award from the Human Rights Campaign
Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has awarded Cincinnati a perfect score on its municipal equality index, which ranks a city based on its record of laws and policies protecting sexual and gender identity. HRC vice president Fred Sainz says Cincinnati is on the “forefront of equality”.

Sainz says in the city can't rest on its laurels; and should continually rededicate itself to making life better for all citizens.

“We are hoping that this will spark a conversation at the state and national level for the passage of fully-inclusive non-discrimination laws that apply to employment, but also to housing, and to hotels and restaurants,'' Sainz says.

“Cincinnati is proving to its leaders at the state level that that is in fact what should be done in Ohio and across the country,” says Sainz.

Cincinnati is one of 38 cities in the country to receive a perfect score, along with Columbus, Seattle, Phoenix and Philadelphia.  Dayton scored 95.  Cleveland was rated at 79.  The average score in Ohio was 83.  The gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender civil rights group ranks communities on their protections and policies promoting sexual identity and gender identity equality.

The HRC gave Cincinnati a score of 100 because it extended benefits to same-sex partners of city employees, created GLBT liaisons in the police and fire departments and mayor's office, and required all city contractors to sign non-discrimination clauses.  The City also created a domestic partner registry and approved covering the medical costs related to surgeries for transgender employees.

Mayor John Cranley says the ranking will be good for business, because it shows Cincinnati is inclusive. 

“But even if it cost us money, even if, for whatever reason, it hurt business, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s the right thing to do, and it’s the right thing to do for humanity,” Cranley says.

Councilmember Yvette Simpson says she's proud of the award, because as someone who has suffered discrimination, she understands the need for fairness.  “I know that hate and discrimination don’t go away, they just switch targets,” she says.  “We want to be a city that is inclusive for all individuals; and a city that doesn’t care about who you love, but cares more that you love.”

In 2013, Cincinnati received a score of 90 on the MEI.