Covington's Human Rights Campaign Score Increases, Earns National News Story
Covington is Kentucky's second-friendliest city for LGBTQ people according to the latest report from the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBTQ advocacy organization.
Covington's score on HRC's Municipal Equality Index increased year over year from 74 to 94.
"We are thrilled," Mayor Joe Meyer said. "Covington prides itself on being a welcoming community - in fact, it's part of our core identity - and this is outside, independent reinforcement that we back up our beliefs and our attitudes with laws, protections, and policies."
Covington's MEI score of 94 placed Covington second in Kentucky, behind only Louisville, which scored a perfect 100. Cincinnati also scored a perfect 100.
The MEI rates cities on things like non-discriminatory laws, the city as an employer, services, law enforcement, and the city's leadership's position publicly on equality.
Covington's scorecard can be seen here.
In the last year or so, Covington took several steps to improve its score, including passing an ordinance banning discrimination by city contractors for sexual orientation and gender identity, creating a non-gender-specific restroom at City Hall, and naming a liaison among senior staff to serve as a resource for LGBTQ issues for city employees.
The city also earned "points" for having among its appointed and elected leaders several members of the LGBTQ community.
In 2003, Covington became one of the first cities in Kentucky to codify its commitment to protecting all people from discrimination by passing a human rights ordinance, now commonly referred to as a fairness ordinance, that added sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, prohibiting discrimination within the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, resort and amusement.
In June of this year, Covington was a presenting sponsor at the first-ever NKY Pride Community Awards Celebration, during which Covington Economic Development Director Tom West took the mic to urge other Northern Kentucky cities to follow Covington's lead. Since then, the cities of Dayton and Bellevue have added those protections, and other cities are considering doing so.
Highland Heights is expected to have a second reading of its proposed ordinance in December.
West said national experts said Covington's reputation for diversity in this area made it easier to attract talent, jobs, and investment.
"There are many reasons for Covington to support the LGBTQ community," West said. "The Garner report demonstrates that it's not only right thing to do but also the smart thing to do."
Over the weekend, NBC News included Covington on a list of gay-friendly small cities, a report that can be seen here.
MEI scores for Kentucky cities:
- 100 - Louisville
- 94 - Covington
- 93 - Lexington
- 66 - Frankfort
- 55 - Morehead
- 18 - Owensboro