Dallas could jeopardize perfect MEI score by announcing it early

Posted on 22 Sep 2015 at 9:56am

Dallas city employees formed CAPE and Dallas got 2 points for that

Dallas received a preliminary perfect score of 100 on the Municipal Equality Index, but could jeopardize that score by announcing it early. The MEI is not released until November.

City Council received a briefing on Monday and the new scores, sent out to cities across the country so that employees and LGBT groups could review and comment ahead of publication, were explained.

Dallas Observer and Dallas Morning News ran with the news. But Dallas could be penalized by Human Rights Campaign, which compiles the MEI, because the score is not final and is not for publication.

That having been said, here’s how Dallas got to 100.

Last year, the city received 91. Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on marriage equality, so scores were adjusted to account for that. In addition, Dallas equalized pension benefits and family medical leave to apply to all employees. Without Texas blocking Dallas from being the city it wanted to be, the MEI score became 96.

Then Cheryl Orr, the city diversity officer, found several things she thought deserved consideration by HRC. The city partnered with Coalition for Aging LGBT to host a conference and Councilman Adam Medrano was involved in its implementation. Cannon Flowers, who chairs the new organization, was made a member of the mayor’s LGBT Task Force. Dallas got 2 points.

Over the past year, city employees formed an employee resource group called CAPE — City Association for Promoting Equality — and Dallas had never gotten credit for its mayor’s task force. Two points.

The only other city with a score of 100 is Austin. Of course, publishing this information could give Dallas a penalty. Any penalty, even one point, puts Dallas behind Austin, but still ranks us as one of the most inclusive cities in the country.

Fort Worth added points this year as well. That city is over 90 in this year’s MEI.

Grand Prairie added some points as well. It has a good anti-bullying policy that enumerates categories and has an inclusive nondiscrimination policy for city employees. How did that happen without an outcry? It’s been in place for a number of years and was added administratively. No one has filed a complaint under the policy. It’s cost the city exactly nothing. And its employees work in a safe environment and just do their jobs. Funny how that works.

Other cities in the area didn’t do so well. Plano actually lost points for its nondiscrimination policy that was poorly written and then protested so obnoxiously by Prestonwood Baptist Church and its organizers from Houston.

Maybe one day, some of Dallas’ suburban cities, like Irving, will wake up. Oh wait, Irving banned the possession of clocks, didn’t they?

Irving, home of the Boy Scouts of America and ExxonMobil, gets the big fat zero it deserves. And it deserves a zero, because unlike the Corporate Equality Index, HRC doesn’t have negative scores on the MEI. ExxonMobil receives a special score of minus-25 each year because of the special effort it makes each year to deny its employees equality.

But if the Boy Scouts can vote to allow gay troop leaders and employees, a policy agreed to earlier this year, Irving can move beyond its mayor, who was elected because of her ordinance banning Sharia Law in her city. And its police department can move beyond handcuffing a genius kid because he’s Muslim.

Elsewhere in the state, Houston lost points for its recall of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

But here in Dallas, we get 100 — unless we lose points for opening our big, fat, proud mouths too soon.

Really HRC, we only mentioned it because the score makes us proud.

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