Monthly Archives: October 2016

Salt Lake City May Expand LGBT Protections

For many people, Salt Lake City is always a surprising entry on any list of top LGBT cities. It’s easy to forget that the city itself is actually much more liberal and welcoming than many parts of Utah. It has a number of LGBT-owned businesses, bars, restaurants, and clubs. Despite the fact that the Mormon Church is based in the city, it’s not at all what many would expect. Even the church has supported a number of bills aimed at protecting LGBT citizens, although they always want to make certain there are religious exemptions.

salt-lake-city-may-expand-lgbt-protectionsRecently, this city of contradictions has found itself in the headlines once against as the Salt Lake City Council has pressed for renewed discussions on the city’s LGBT protections and how the residents of Salt Lake City are treated. The initiative was announced on October 17, 2016, and was sponsored by council members Derek Kitchen and Stan Penfold.

This initiative aims at starting a year to a year and a half long discussion with business owners, residents, and public officials about Salt Lake City’s public accommodations law. This law would, if passed, offer protections to residents from being told to leave a business due to their gender identity or sexual orientation.

These public accommodation laws cover any facility that is used by the general public, even if that facility is technically considered private property. Locations covered by the law include educational facilities, recreational facilities, rental establishments, retail stores, and other establishments offering services to the public. Federal law prevents any discrimination based a number of factors at these establishments, but it does not cover sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, 45 different states have passed laws adding orientation and/or identity.

Utah does currently does protect LGBT citizens from discrimination in employment, both as public and as private employees. However, neither the state nor the city has a public accommodation law. Following the discussions, such a bill may be introduced.

Kitchen and Penfold made their announcement during a Human Rights Commission conference regarding the HRC’s 2016 Municipal Equality Index. The index looks at the city’s various LGBT protections, services, policies, and other inclusive laws to determine how friendly it is to those in the community. This year, Salt Lake City received a score of 69 out of 100, the highest of the eight different cities in Utah to be included on the list. However, the city would have ranked higher if a public accommodation law was in effect.

How Tennessee Cities Rank in the 2016 HRC Study

The Human Rights Campaign has completed its fifth Municipal Equality Index. This study looks at how cities across the U.S. rank based on their policies, laws, city hiring practices, school polices, and other practices protect their LGBT citizens. The study looked at the capital cities of each state as well as several hundred of the most populous and largest cities. In Tennessee, that included eight different cities.

how-tennessee-cities-rank-in-the-2016-hrc-studyThe highest scoring city in Tennessee was Nashville, which scored a 60. That’s slightly higher than the national average score of 55, but the other seven cities fell short of that goal. Knoxville, the second-highest scoring city, hit the average with a 55, but Memphis came in just under at 53. The other cities in the state scored even lower, dropping Tennessee’s average to 33 points out of 100.

Despite this, Tennessee is working to improve its reputation in the LGBT community. Cities such as Murfreesboro have held pride celebrations for the first time in 2016. While the state does still have a number of challenges that must be addressed, groups such as the Tennessee Equality Project are working with local and state legislators to address these issues.

While Memphis has improved its HRC ranking over the years, the city does still have a number of areas that need work. For example, the city does ranks a zero out of 30 in the non-discrimination laws section. This part of the evaluation looked at Memphis’s laws that prevented discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. The city has had a number of debates over inclusive housing laws, especially those aimed at protecting transgender individuals.

Another area where Memphis failed was in healthcare benefits for transgender individuals. The city has no benefits for these citizens. Looking at all of the cities in the study, this was an area of major improvement across the board. In 2012, there were only five cities with inclusive healthcare. This year, there were 86.

Memphis did not fail in all areas, though. For example, the city did score a full five points for the fact that the mayor’s office has an LGBT liaison. Another area Memphis received full credit for was for having full non-discrimination laws regarding city employment.

Many LGBT activists see opportunities to improve Memphis’s score next year, especially with the mayor’s office working with the LGBT community.

Top California Cities for LGBT Couples to Raise a Family

Are you thinking about moving to California to raise your family? There are many welcoming cities in the state, although some of those same cities are fairly expensive. However, if you work with a gay or lesbian real estate agent, you can find a home that is in both an area of town where you feel safe to express yourself and fits your budget. Here are some of the state’s top cities for raising your children or for starting a family of your own.

Long Beach

top-california-cities-for-lgbt-couples-to-raise-a-familyLong Beach is a great city that is fairly laid back and relaxed. This atmosphere has made it a major draw, especially for those who have lived in Los Angeles and want to get out of that high-stress environment. While it’s still near enough to LA that you could commute to work there, the housing costs are lower. Long Beach has a large Pride festival every year and is one of the cities in California that has seen its LGBT population grow for the past several years.

Pasadena

Another city with a more relaxed atmosphere is Pasadena. With only a little over 135,000 people, Pasadena provides much less of a crowd than LA or San Francisco. It is very LGBT-friendly, though, and has had a number of openly gay elected officials and LGBT businesses. The city has a very thriving nightlife and social life for those over 40, too. If it seems like you live in an area that only caters to the young LGBT crowd, Pasadena may be a great place to check out.

San Jose

San Jose is a part of the Bay Area and is home to a good number of LGBT individuals. Price-wise, homes here are cheaper than in neighboring San Francisco, which is a major draw for some people. Many of the businesses based in San Jose are major LGBT rights supporters and tend to have a good number of out employees. San Jose State University is also a very supportive school and has an LGBT resource center.

San Diego

If the Bay Area isn’t for you, you might want to move south and try San Diego. It’s another very friendly city with a large number of gay residents. In fact, San Diego State University is recognized as a top university for LGBT students. The city also has a number of non-discrimination laws, making it one of the safest places for LGBT individuals.