For the fourth year in a row, the city of Atlanta has earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual rating of how well cities protect and support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.
The “Municipal Equality Index” report highlights the economic benefits of strong LGBT rights laws and policies.
“Diversity is not just an ethical imperative. It is an economic driver,” writes business professor and journalist Richard Florida in the report’s introduction. “Studies affirm time and time again that diversity and inclusion spur economic growth.”
The Municipal Equality Index rates a city’s LGBT laws and policies in five categories: non-discrimination laws, municipal employment policies, municipal services, law enforcement and general relationship with the LGBT community.
Atlanta earned the highest possible rating of 100, and also earned four “bonus” points for having openly LGBT city leaders and for enforcement mechanisms in its city services protections.
“My administration has worked to make sure our policies and practices speak to our values,” Mayor Kasim Reed said in a press release. “Our performance shows that our work is making a difference to Atlanta’s LGBT community, and setting the standard for cities in the Southeast.”
A total of 10 Georgia cities or areas were ranked, with none of the others rating higher than 44. Decatur rated 21; Roswell 11; and Sandy Springs 22.
The Atlanta press release notes that earlier this year, the Reed administration appointed the first transgender person to the Atlanta Citizen Review Board. Reed also supported President Obama’s executive action to ensure transgender women and men have access to their preferred restroom.
The city maintains transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage for city employees, the press release says. Reed also amended the Atlanta city code to include gender identity in all non-discrimination provisions, and in 2013, appointed Atlanta Law Department Chief Counsel Robin Shahar as mayoral advisor on LGBT issues.