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Buffalo just misses top ranking on LGBTQ index

Human Rights Campaign

The City of Buffalo supports LGBTQ people who live and work here, but can do better. That is according to the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which gave the city a score of 95 out of 100.

The index assesses LGBTQ equality in more than 500 cities across the country based upon five categories: the city's non-discrimination laws, the city as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city's relationship with the LGBTQ community. Buffalo lost points in two categories, but earned a bonus of 10 points for overall commitment.

In municipal services - defined as "efforts of the city to ensure  constituents are included in city services and programs" - Buffalo lost five points for not having an LGBTQ liaison in the mayor's office.

However, in law enforcement - defined as "fair law enforcement of the law including responsible reporting of hate crimes and engaging the LGBTQ community in a thoughtful and respectful way" - that omission cost the city more. Buffalo lost 10 points for not having an LGBTQ liaison or task force.

That would have earned the city an 85, if it had not been for the 10-point bonus. Among other New York cities, Rochester, Albany, New York City and Yonkers each scored a 100 on the index.

This is the Human Rights Campaign's fifth annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the only nationwide rating system of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal law and policy.

"The 2016 MEI reveals that cities across the nation are not waiting for their states to extend vital protections to the LGBTQ community, nor are they intimidated by some state elected officials threatening to deny cities the ability to extend fully-inclusive protections to their residents and workers," HRC said upon releasing the index. "Instead, municipalities in red states and blue states alike are boldly enacting laws and policies prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing and public accommodations, and working to ensure that everyone is guaranteed the same access to city services."

This year, 60 cities across the United States earned perfect scores for advancing fully-inclusive policies and practices -- up from 47 in 2015 and 11 in 2012, the first year of the index.