National Report Rates LGBT Equity in U.S. Cities

By Brady Smith, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Human Rights Campaign has released its 2013 Municipal Equality Index, which rates U.S. Cities on their inclusiveness of the LGBT community. Four Iowa's cities were rated, and scored: Iowa City, Des Moines, Davenport, and Cedar Rapids. The first three cities scored 90, 88, and 90, respectively, but Cedar Rapids was rated lower, at 63 out of a possible 100 points.

Anthony Brown of Diversity Focus started looking at how Cedar Rapids was scored in certain areas, and more importantly, why it scored low in those areas. He said it all comes down to certain city policies, some of which aren't as inclusive as those in other Iowa cities.

"Other communities require any contractors that they have to have anti-discrimination policies and inclusive work forces, and prove that. And we as a city do not require our contractors to do that right now," said Brown, adding that that's something the city and his organization are still working toward.

But Brown and the city's Civil Rights Commission say there are parts of the scorecard that need updating, like the category that rates cities based on whether it has an LGBT liaison or task force. Cedar Rapids scored a 0 out of 8 there, but the commission's executive director said they fulfill that role.

"We are the liaison," said John-Paul Chaisson-Cardenas.

Brown said there's another item in the scorecard pertaining to domestic partner health benefits that seems unnecessary.

"Now that we have same-gender marriage equality in Iowa, to me that's not needed," Brown explained.

But Brown and Chaisson-Cardenas agree that the scorecard is still valuable, as a way to see where Cedar Rapids needs work.

"I think that is what Diversity Focus is trying to do, with working with corporations and communities, and increasing awareness and acceptance within the corridor," said Brown.
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