What are the nation’s most gay-friendly cities? The Human Rights Campaign’s first Municipal Equality Index (MEI) rates the public policies and legal rights of LGBT citizens in 137 U.S. cities in 50 states on 47 criteria, and 11 cities scored a perfect 100. Some of them aren’t all that surprising — Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco — all in Cali; Seattle and progressive Portland, Ore. in the Pacific Northwest;  Boston/Cambridge, Philly and of course New York City in the East.

The outlier that pleased us, though? St. Louis, Mo. It was the lone city in the middle of the country so honored with 100 points. In terms of LGBT legislation, St. Louis is one of the most progressive cities in the country, with the study evaluating a city on nondiscrimination laws, relationship recognition, the municipality’s employment policies, municipal services and programs, how well the municipal law enforcement responds to LGBT issues and the municipality’s relationship with the LGBT community.

“We are proud to see the prominence of St. Louis,” says A.J. Bockelman, exec director of PROMO, Missouri’s LGBT advocacy organization. “It reflects the value the LGBT community provides to the health and prosperity of our city.”

A number of other cities scored 95 or above, including Berkeley, Palm Springs and West Hollywood, Calif.; Denver; Chicago; Hartford, Conn.; Albany, N.Y.; and Madison, Wisc.

Those in the single digits are Jackson, Miss. and Avondale Estates, Ga. (8), Pleasant Ridge, Mich. (3), and Baton Rouge, La. and Cheyenne, Wyo. (2). And at zero? Well, there are two: Montgomery, Ala. and Frankfort, Ky. There’s something sad about a state that’s abbreviated “KY” doing so poorly with gay rights.

You can view the full report at

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— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 11, 2013.