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Santa Monica Earns Poor Score in LGBTQ Equity Index
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

October 20, 2016 -- The City of Santa Monica earned mostly poor scores in an equity index released Monday by a national advocate group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, falling below California’s average scores and dozens of other cities in the state.

Santa Monica received a score of 64 points out of a possible 100 points in the fifth edition of the index, which looks at laws and practices that relate to the LGBT community among municipalities. The list is compiled by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, based in Washington D.C.

California’s average score is 73, representatives of the organization said.

Santa Monica received its highest score for prohibiting discrimination against the LGBT community in housing, employment and public accommodations by means of local and other government laws.

The City earned bonus points for, among other things, the reporting of hate crimes against the LGBT community, which is also called LGBTQ, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and “queer” people.

The City also earned points for “engaging the LGBTQ community in a thoughtful and respectful way,” the report said.

It did poorly in its own hiring, scoring three of 24 possible points in terms of non-discrimination in City employment and transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits, although the workforce was regarded as “welcoming.”

“California cities and towns include the best and unfortunately, some of the worst places for LGBT people to live, work and visit," said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, which released the findings.

"Many major cities -- Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Long Beach and Palm Springs -- have attained perfect scores,” he said.

“However, cities and towns scattered throughout the state are depressingly blind to the needs of LGBT people, having receiving failing scores,” Zbur said. “Places like Brisbane, Bakersfield, Oxnard, Ontario and others can and must do better."

A recent study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law determined there are about 1.34 million people in California’s LGBT community. Almost a third live in Los Angeles County and another quarter live elsewhere in Southern California. The Bay area accounts for another 22 percent and rest is scattered in farming communities and mountain areas.

Well-known for its progressive leanings, Santa Monica was nonetheless bested by 27 cities in the rankings, which looked at 57 cities in the state.

One point ahead of Santa Monica were Riverside, Santa Clarita and Torrance. Richmond had the lowest score with 42 points.

The 2016 Municipal Equality Index, which organizers said is the only nationwide rating system of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal law and policy, shows that city governments are ahead of state and federal governments in trying to protect and provide services for their LGBT populations.

This year, the index measured 506 cities nationwide, including the 57 cities in California.

More than 24 million people live in cities with local laws for transgender people that are more inclusive than those in state laws, Zbur said.

Nationwide, the average city score was 55 points. Sixty cities, or 12 percent of those rated, scored 100 points; 25 percent scored over 75 points; 25 percent scored under 33 points; and 8 cities scored zero points.

Cities with a higher proportion of same-sex couples, as tabulated by a UCLA Williams Institute analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, tended to score better. The presence of openly-LGBTQ city officials was also correlated with higher scores, analysts said.

The Equity Federation Institute helped compile the report.


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