For the third year in a row, the Human Rights Campaign has analyzed the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks in more than 300 cities across the nation. The Municipal Equality Index is a rating system that looks at municipal law and policy in relation to the LGBT community. Though Texas' average score was an embarrassing 28 out of 100 points, the city of Austin landed a perfect score of 100.
"Austin ... is helping to set a standard of LGBT inclusiveness with exemplary policies ranging from non-discrimination laws and equal employee benefits, to cutting edge city services," said the Human Rights Campaign in a press release.
The MEI's release comes in the midst of an eye roll-inducing battle over crosswalks on West Fourth Street. Advocates want to turn the traditional crosswalks into rainbows, marking the official entrance to Austin's unofficial "gayborhood." The idea has received push back from neighbors including Peche and Truluck's.
The oddly contentious fight was detailed in a September article in the Austin Chronicle which quoted Peche owner Rob Pate as saying, "Oilcan's, Castro's and Rain are absolutely wonderful neighbors, but when you deviate from the norm, it could open a Pandora's box." The initial plan was passed by Austin City Council and critics have since warmed to the idea.
Despite this contentious crosswalk conflict, Austin is paving the way for cities across Texas to adopt more LGBT-friendly laws including relationship recognition, city employment policies, non-discrimination requirements, inclusiveness of city services and municipal leadership on matters of equality.
The "little blueberry in the tomato soup" may have nabbed a perfect 100, but the rest of Texas didn't fare so well. While Dallas got a very respectable 91, San Antonio scored a 71 and Houston received a paltry 54. Despite close proximity to Austin, Waco scored 24, while Killeen nabbed a mere 10.
Irving, Lubbock, McAllen and Mesquite all scored 0, far below the national average of 59.