Human Rights Campaign announces Municipal Equality Index in Iowa City

The largest American LGBTQ organization reveals its 2019 report of how accepting different cities across America are of their LGBTQ community.

 

On Nov 19, the Municipal Equality Index (MEI) was announced at City Hall in Iowa City. The MEI rates 506 different cities in the United States on the inclusivity of laws and policies through five categories and 49 criteria. There are 100 possible standard points and 22 possible bonus points awarded. The MEI was created by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest American LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. Out of the cities that received 100 standard points, Iowa City received the fifth-highest number of bonus points in the nation. 

For the past six years, Iowa City has maintained a total score of 100. Although cities cannot get higher than 100; this year, Iowa City received 100 standard points and 12 bonus points. Last year, they received nine bonus points.

 

Due to Iowa City’s consistently high rating, the scorecard launch was held at City Hall. Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs of the HRC JoDee Winterhof attended the launch.

“The Iowa City Council and the mayor, along with other leaders, citizens, students and others have built a flourishing and inclusive community that is welcoming to all and focused on building a better future for LGBTQ people here in Iowa City,” Winterhof said in her speech at the conference.

Five other people spoke at the conference including the CEO of Corridor Entertainment Group Jason Zeman, Iowa City Mayor James Throgmorton, the first openly gay council member Bruce Teague, President of Iowa City Pride Anthony Sivanthaphanith and Executive Director of One Iowa Courtney Reyes.

In his speech, Teague celebrated the announcement and inclusiveness of Iowa City while also bringing up the room for improvement. Multiple cities across the United States received a score of 0.

“We have come so far over the decades standing on the shoulders of activists that have come before us in the fight for equality, and we continue to stand united. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of work to be done yet to ensure that the LGBTQ+ rights, which are human rights, are maintained … We cannot take for granted the enjoyment of our lives here in Iowa City while others across the state and the country continue to experience discrimination on many levels.”

We cannot take for granted the enjoyment of our lives here in Iowa City while others across the state and the country continue to experience discrimination on many levels.”

— Council Member Bruce Teague

Although there is still work to be done, this year 88 out of the 506 cities received 100s, an improvement of 10 cities from last year. This number has increased eight-fold from the first year of the MEI in 2012 in which only 11 cities received 100s.

Assistant City Manager of Iowa City Ashley Monroe attended the announcement. Part of her job entails public improvements, which relates to the MEI. With the City Manager, she looks at how policies and procedures affect everyone and how available they are to the community.

“The city is really supportive of efforts to provide services and access and support to our LGBTQ community,” Monroe said. “We support things like the United Action for Youth and have done that for years. We’ve been supporting the One Iowa activities so people get that support at work … We’ve been doing this for decades. That’s really what the city of Iowa City stands for, we want to make sure that everybody has the support and protections that are needed to live their best life.”

That’s really what the city of Iowa City stands for, we want to make sure that everybody has the support and protections that are needed to live their best life.”

— Assistant Manager Ashley Monroe

Monroe hopes to improve inclusivity at a smaller scale, focusing on workplace access and expanding the diversity for staff in the community.

“I think the next step is to continue to do what we’re doing and then do a better job of talking about what we’re doing to make sure people know the good things that are happening here,” Monroe said.

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