Equality report places Buffalo low among NYS cities

November 21, 2013 Updated Nov 21, 2013 at 9:33 AM EDT

By Tracey Drury, Buffalo Business First Reporter- Business First

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Equality report places Buffalo low among NYS cities

November 21, 2013 Updated Nov 21, 2013 at 9:33 AM EDT

Buffalo is ranked lowest among six New York communities for overall equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The 2013 Municipal Equality Index report by the Human Rights Campaign, a national civil rights organization, rated 291 cities across the country based on LGBT inclusion in municipal law. The index was created in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute.

New York's average score was 80 out of 100, falling well above the national average of 57. But Buffalo scored below the average, with a 52, well behind New York, which scored 100 points; Albany, 99; Rochester, 98; Yonkers, 69; and Northwest Harbor (East Hampton), 60.

The study's authors said the index shows that cities across the country continue to prove that municipalities will act to support equality for LGBT people, even where states and the federal government have failed to do so.

"Equality isn't just for the coasts anymore," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "This groundbreaking report shows that cities and towns across the country, from Vicco, Kentucky to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, are leading the charge for basic fairness for LGBT people."

The index includes information for the 50 state capitals, the 150 most populous cities in the country, the three largest cities in every state, the city home to each state's largest public university, and the 25 large, 25 mid-size, and 25 small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples.

New York was among 25 cities that earned a perfect 100 based on policies ranging from non-discrimination laws, equal employee benefits and city services. That's up from two years ago, when just 11 cities scored 100.

New York's largest advocacy organization for LGBT rights, the Empire State Pride Agenda, cheered New York's scores.

"These findings on the municipal level help create statewide and national momentum, and we hope cities with inclusive practices like New York City, Albany and Rochester encourage other cities across the Empire State to adopt policies to ensure and equal protections for their LGBT residents," said Nathan Schaefer, executive director.

Cities were rated based on 47 criteria in six categories. Buffalo did well in the areas of non-discrimination laws and relationship recognition. But, the city scored poorly in the areas of municipality employment and contracting policies; inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement; and municipal leadership on matters of equality.

You can find a link to the report at:
http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/blog/morning_roundup/2013/11/equality-report-places-buffalo-low.html