A national human rights group gave Houston a score of 48 out of 100 for LGBT equality, according to a recently released report.
Yesterday, the Human Rights Campaign released its fourth annual LGBT equality index assessing more than 350 cities across the country, including Houston. We didn't fare so hot compared to similarly sized population centers in Texas but still managed to outscore more than half of the state's cities covered in the report, which focused on LGBT inclusiveness in municipal government and the implementation of non-discrimination laws.
It's no surprise to see that Houston scored low, considering the nationwide criticism we faced in November when voters, galvanized by fear, rejected the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, a law aimed at protecting a wide range of citizens from discrimination in the workplace, housing and public businesses.
But it's a little surprising to see Houston score less than half that of neighbors Dallas and Austin, considering Houston's current Mayor is openly gay and that the city's large LGBT community is politically active and well-organized. Some of the city's bad grades just don't make much sense, like the 0 out of 5 score for not having a "LGBT Liaison" in the Mayor's office.
Dallas and Austin received perfect scores of 100, Forth Worth got a 98 and San Antonio a 90. All of those cities have non-discrimination ordinances in place protecting the LGBT community. Clearly, HERO's failure is responsible for Houston's poor rating.
“The devastating repeal of Houston’s equal rights ordinance clearly demonstrates that securing full equality for LGBT Texans is about much more than winning the freedom to marry," Chuck Smith, executive director of the LGBT lobbying group Equality Texas, said in a press release accompanying the report. "We experienced some of the most vitriolic and divisive tactics ever seen in Texas from opponents of equality in Houston. While the [report] can point to many Texas cities that have taken it upon themselves to extend protections from discrimination, it also shines a bright light on the millions of Texans who live in cities with little or no protections at all. This disparity between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' only further demonstrates the critical need for statewide LGBT nondiscrimination protections in employment, housing, and public spaces.”
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Overall, the average score among Texas cities was a woeful 32. Irving, Lubbock, Mesquite, and College Station received scores of 0. While those goose-egg getters are hardly LGBT Shangri-Las, it's difficult to imagine how any 21st century American city could be accurately graded "0" for LGBT equality.
Here's the human rights group's full report on Houston:
You can see how other U.S. cities fared here.