The Illinois General Assembly legalized same-sex marriage throughout the state in June, but individual cities have jurisdiction over other laws and policies that can be more or less inclusive of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents. In a measure of this inclusivity, the Human Rights Campaign gave Chicago and Evanston perfect scores on its annual Municipal Equality Index.
The Human Rights Campaign, a 1.5-million-member national group that advocates equality for the LGBT population, also rated seven other Illinois cities in its survey, which included 353 other cities throughout the country. On a 100-point scale, Springfield had the second-highest ranking among Illinois cities with a score of 76.
These rankings were made solely based on local laws and statistics, federal and state laws notwithstanding (except with regards to marriage laws, which municipalities cannot issue).
Each city was given a score out of 100, based on the quality of its local anti-discrimination laws, its attitude toward recognizing same-gender relationships, the municipality as an employer, its municipal services, law enforcement anti-discrimination efforts and reported hate crimes and the community's overall relationship with its LGBT members. Cities could also earn various bonus points for things such as having an openly LGBT elected official.
Chicago was one of the 38 cities in the country to receive a perfect score. It scored well in areas of recognizing same-sex relationships, offering anti-bullying services, reporting its number of sexuality-based hate crimes and enforcing non-discrimination policies among city employees. Though some points were deducted for inadequate transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits, the city was able to reach a perfect score by racking up bonus points for having openly LGBT elected officials, offering support to residents with HIV/AIDS and offering support to LGBT youth and homeless people.
In total, Chicago earned 93 regular points and 14 bonus points for a score of 100 (scores did not exceed 100).
Evanston also received a perfect score, but submitted itself for consideration, and so was not included in the list of 38 perfect cities.
Chicago and Evanston were the only cities in the state to receive a perfect score, but six other cities were rated, with five of those earning average or better scores. Check out Reboot Illinois to see why the HRC says LGBT-inclusive policies are good for cities and which Illinois city scored second-best. The answer might surprise you.
Sign up for our daily email to stay up to date on all things Illinois politics.
NEXT ARTICLE: Get in line! Municipalities around Illinois are in need of pension reform
Join the discussion: Why does Illinois have so many units of local government?
Sigh of relief, for now, for GOP candidates on gay marriage
Rauner visits veterans on Thanksgiving Day
Aloha, Land of Lincoln! Illinois' most-googled Thanksgiving dish
Want to tell your elected officials what you think of the state of government in Illinois? Use our Sound Off tool.