Irvine is Top OC City in LGBT Equality Rankings But Much Improvement Needed

Which is the gayest Orange County city?

I would have put my money on Anaheim, because of Disneyland, or Huntington Beach, with all the MMA gyms, but actually it’s Irvine, according to a new report.

The Portland, Oregon-based Equality Federation on Thursday released its 2015 Municipal Equality Index, which rates cities nationwide based on municipal laws. 

This year’s MEI, which the Equality Federation partnered with the Human Rights Campaign to publish, shows growing support for LGBTQ people and families, according to the groups.

“This year, an unprecedented wave of discriminatory legislation attempted to roll-back our efforts for LGBT equality. Despite that challenge, over 20 towns and municipalities passed non-discrimination ordinances, some in the most unexpected places,” explains Rebecca Isaacs, the Equality Federation executive director. “These wins, along with historic LGBT visibility, speak to the tenacity of our advocates all across the country, many of whom donate their time to achieve fairness and equality.”

The report does identify two areas that cities need to focus on: anti-transgender violence and city employee domestic partner benefits.

“The MEI is an important tool for our movement that illustrates our successes and the work ahead of us,” Isaacs says. “We will not stop until all Americans have a fair opportunity to provide for themselves and their families, free from the scourge of discrimination.”

More work is needed in Orange County. Unlike Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, no ranked OC city received a perfect score of 100. A record 47 cities were awarded scores of 100 this year, making it the most frequent score on the 2015 MEI.

Depending on the level of service for the LGBT community, cities receive full, partial or no scores for whether they have: non-discrimination laws; municipal hiring that is fully inclusive; constituent services and programs specifically geared toward the LGBT community; a positive relationship between law enforcement and the LGBT community; leaders that show support for the LGBT community by participating in parades, weighing in on legal decisions, etc.

Bonus points were available for going above and beyond in protecting, recognizing and embracing the LGBT community.

All California cities have anti-discrimination laws, so that is the sole category all Orange County cities ranked aced. Irvine was the county’s top city, receiving a score of 79 that was helped by acing the municipal employment and services/programs categories.

But no other OC cities received perfect scores for categories other than anti-discrimination laws.

The ranked cities and scores: Fullerton, 76; Orange, 71; Huntington Beach, 62; Anaheim, 61; and Santa Ana and Garden Grove pull up the rear with 59 each. 


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