Human Resources and Nonprofits

Grand Rapids rates above average for LGBT equality

December 18, 2015
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Human Rights Campaign HRC supporters
Supporters of the Human Rights Campaign, or HRC, congregate in a city. Photo via

Grand Rapids is considered above average in terms of LGBT equality when it’s compared to cities across the nation.

The Human Rights Campaign, or HRC, released yesterday its annual “Municipal Equality Index,” or MEI — which ranks LGBT inclusion in municipal law and policy on a scale of 0 to 100 — and Grand Rapids earned an overall score of 76, 20 points higher than the national average of 56.

Grand Rapids earned scores in various categories: it scored a perfect 30 points out of 30 in non-discrimination laws; 18 points out of 24 for the municipality as an employer; five points out of 16 for municipal services offered; 12 points out of 22 for law enforcement; five out of eight points for the city’s relationship with the LGBT community; and many other scores.

The city also received six bonus points for having an enforcement mechanism in the Human Rights Commission and for having openly LGBT elected or appointed municipal leaders.


Two Michigan cities, Detroit and East Lansing, scored a perfect 100 on the MEI, while Ferndale scored a 97.

A number of other Michigan cities appear in the index: Ann Arbor, 77; Lansing, 72; Pleasant Ridge, 56; Sterling Heights, 28; and Warren, 16.

As a whole, cities in the state of Michigan earned an average score of 69.

“For years now, the number of Michigan cities that understand the wisdom of providing protections against discrimination has been steadily growing,” said Stephanie White, executive director, Equality Michigan. “We all see the benefits to making those areas more attractive, more competitive and safer for everyone.”


Detroit and East Lansing are two of 47 cities nationally that earned a perfect 100-point score. In 2014, 38 cities scored perfectly on the MEI.

Across the nation, there are cities that earned high marks, demonstrating that commitment to LGBT equality is not confined only to regions typically associated with being LGBT friendly. Half the cities researched scored more than 61 points or above the 56-point average.

Eleven percent of cities surveyed scored a perfect 100, 25 percent scored between 77 and 99 points and 25 percent scored less than 31 points.

Several major Midwest cities also earned scores in the index: Chicago, 100; Cleveland, 78; Indianapolis, 92; Milwaukee, 82; and Minneapolis, 100.

Index methodology

The MEI rates cities on 41 ranking criteria falling under five broad categories:

  • Non-discrimination laws
  • Municipality’s employment policies
  • Inclusiveness of city services
  • Law enforcement
  • Municipal leadership on matters of equality

Cities can also receive bonus points for criteria that is not accessible to all cities at this time.

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