Today the Human Rights Campaign released their third annual Municipal Equality Index and highlights four metro areas in Louisiana: Baton Rouge, Jefferson Parish, New Orleans and Shreveport. I appreciate the diligent work, time and energy that HRC put into creating this great tool for cities across the country.
When the MEI was first issued in 2012, Baton Rouge and Shreveport barely ranked in the double digits. With our effort to expand protections in the past year, from the inclusion of gender identity in Baton Rouge’s city employee protections to partnering with PACE on the Shreveport Fairness Ordinance, we have seen a marked impact in these two cities. It is truly uplifting to see that over time, the hard work that Forum for Equality and organizations like PACE have done across Louisiana is producing tangible progress at the local level.
In the new HRC report, we also have our first glance into Jefferson Parish and the results of our effort to expand parish employment protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. And that’s only the beginning, so stay tuned!
While New Orleans receives a high score of 83 on the MEI, this latest report also highlights areas that need improvement. Additionally, there are issues that the MEI does not address that many people in our community encounter every day, especially members of the transgender community and people of color. These issues are highlighted in two recently issued reports by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and BreakOUT. Many times, New Orleans is touted as the bastion of equality, but there is still work to be done, and we will continue to work with the people of our great city to make it a reality.
While we recognize the progress that we have made and celebrate our victories, we are keenly aware of the gaps, limited protections and absence of basic human rights all across our state. That is why we continue to work with our coalition partners, municipal governments, legislature and within the courts to bring full-lived equality to all Louisianans. Please continue to stand with Forum for Equality by making a gift of the heart today and supporting our work to make Louisiana a state of equality.