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Study: Provo and Orem are somewhat LGBT friendly

By Barbara Christiansen daily Herald - | Dec 27, 2015

Utah County communities are approximately in the middle of the pack in the state when it comes to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, according to a report issued by the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization for the LGBT community.

Six Utah communities were scored in the system, with Provo scoring 50 and Orem 40. The average score in the state was 44 out of 100 points. The national average was 56. Utah’s average was increased by Salt Lake City having a score of 75.

There were 408 communities across the country that were analyzed. The criteria included non-discrimination laws, employment policies, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and municipal leadership on matters of equality.

Points were given on laws or measures from the state and from the individual communities. Points were available for both sexual orientation and gender identity.

Both Utah county cities were the recipients of points for state efforts in non-discrimination laws and anti-bullying policies at the state level.

Provo added to that with non-discrimination in city employment, reporting hate crimes to the FBI and having its leadership with a positive position on LGBT equality.

Orem added points to its total with a human rights commission and also for reporting any hate crimes to the FBI.

“Most Orem residents and businesses are extremely welcoming and inclusive,” said Steven Downs, Orem’s assistant city manager. “The policies put in place in our community are a reflection of the good people that choose to make Orem home, and the future families that will choose Orem as their place of residence or work.”

“Our council hasn’t formally passed any ordinance or resolution addressing these issues,” Provo Deputy Mayor Corey Norman said.  

The Municipal Equality Index began in 2012. At that time 11 cities received perfect 100-point scores. In 2013 there were 25 with that mark, 38 in 2014 and 47 for the current year. 

“The cities researched for the 2015 MEI include the 50 state capitals, the 200 most populous cities in the country, the five largest cities in every state, the city home to the state’s two largest public universities, and an equal mix of 75 of the nation’s large, mid-size and small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples,” the report says.

But there has been improvement through those years. 

“Across our country, cities and towns both big and small aren’t waiting for state or national leaders to move LGBT equality forward,” said HRC President Chad Griffin in a release. “Instead, these municipalities are taking action now to improve the lives of countless LGBT Americans. In what has been an historic year for equality, a record-breaking number of municipalities this year have earned top scores in our Municipal Equality Index for their inclusive treatment of their LGBT citizens and workers. They are making a powerful statement that no one should have to wait for full equality — the time is now.” 

“This year, an unprecedented wave of discriminatory legislation attempted to roll-back our efforts for LGBT equality,” Rebecca Isaacs of the Equality Federation said. “Despite that challenge, over 20 towns and municipalities passed non-discrimination ordinances, some in the most unexpected places. These wins, along with historic LGBT visibility, speak to the tenacity of our advocates all across the country, many of whom donate their time to achieve fairness and equality.

“The MEI is an important tool for our movement that illustrates our successes and the work ahead of us. We will not stop until all Americans have a fair opportunity to provide for themselves and their families, free from the scourge of discrimination.” 

City scorecards and the full report are available at www.hrc.org/mei.

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