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By Paul Tooher
Chicago has earned the highest score possible in the 2013 Municipal Equality Index, a survey that rates cities on the laws, policies and services affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people conducted by the Human Rights Campaign.
Chicago was one of only 25 cities scoring 100 points out of 291 surveyed by HRC.
The HRC ranks cities in six categories, including non-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation and gender identity; relationship recognition; how municipalities treat LGBT employees; municipal services provided to the LGBT community; treatment of the LGBT community by local law enforcement and the commitment of the municipality’s leadership to fully include the LGBT community.
Chicago ranked high in the areas of non-discrimination laws; relationship recognition –Illinois recently passed legislation recognizing same-sex marriages; municipal services; law enforcement and the city’s relationship with the LGBT community. The city scored lowest in the areas of providing equal benefits to LGBT employees.
While it’s difficult to estimate the size of the LGBT community, research by the Williams Institute, a think tank affiliated with the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, estimates it comprises 3.8 percent of the U.S. population.
Based on the 2010 Census, the institute estimates there are 368,700 LGBT individuals in Illinois. The institute also reported that there are 23,049 same-sex couples in the state, including 78, or 5.07 per 1,000 households, in DeKalb. Since approving marriage equality earlier this year, the institute estimates that same-sex couples will spend $103 million on weddings over the next three years.
Other cities with a score of 100 included Seattle; Madison, Wis.; Austin, Texas, Portland, Ore.; Philadelphia; New York City; Columbus, the capital of Ohio; Kansas City; St. Louis; Missoula, Mont.; Jersey City, N.J.; Baltimore; Boston, Cambridge, Mass.; Minneapolis; New Haven, Conn.; Atlanta; Long Beach, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego, San Francisco and West Hollywood, all in California; and Phoenix.