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IC receives perfect score

BY CORY PORTER | NOVEMBER 17, 2014 5:00 AM

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In the 20 years Cindy Nagel has lived in Iowa City, she said she’s seen the city open up in positive and lasting ways to the LGBT community, through the work of groups and the efforts of individuals.

“Slowly, bridges have been built between various community entities,” said Nagel, a co-head of Iowa City Pride, an LGBT rights group. “What is so fantastic about Iowa City is there are so many people in this community that are advancing the LGBTQ efforts on their own.”

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest civil-rights organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, released its 2014 Municipal Equality Index on Nov. 13, giving Iowa City, and 38 other municipalities, a perfect score of 100.

This year’s index rated 353 municipalities on LGBTQ issues like relationship recognition, anti-discrimination laws, and relationship with law enforcement, with the average national score being 59, according to the report.

Nagel said she was very excited upon hearing about Iowa City’s perfect score.

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic,” she said. “Iowa City is a very comfortable place to live as a gay person. I completely agree with the score.”

The index rated Iowa City’s “Relationship with the LGBT Community,” a three out of eight, for lacking pro-equality legislative and policy efforts, but did award the city three bonus points for having openly LGBTQ municipal leaders.

Iowa City also received a perfect score of 18 out of 18 possible points under the “Non-Discrimination Laws” section of the index, which included housing, employment, and public accommodations laws.

Preston Keith, a LGBTQ multicultural specialist with the University of Iowa Center for Diversity and Enrichment, said the index shows what Iowa City’s LGBTQ community has known for a long time, “that Iowa City is a great place to call home,” he said.

Keith said the UI’s commitment to fostering an equal environment for LGBTQ students is evident in the services they offer.

“The University of Iowa has only grown in the amount of support it provides, with programs such as the LGBTQ Safe Zone project, the LGBT Resource Center, and various awareness and identity development programs,” Keith said.

Beyond the UI campus, the city also offers plenty of support according to the index, scoring its “Municipal Services,” with all 15 of the possible points, as well as nine additional bonus points.

The section covered services such as the existence of a human rights commission, an LGBT liaison to the city, and anti-bullying policies.

City Councilor Jim Throgmorton said he was pleased with Iowa City’s score, because it has been an issue for decades, citing one example from early in his time as a councilor.

“When I was on the council back in the mid -1990s, we adopted an ordinance extending the right to protection to [transgender] people, so I have long been a supporter of those kinds of actions,” he said.

The “Relationship Recognition,” section of the index gave the city all twelve points, for its domestic partner registry.

For the final section, “Municipality as Employer,” the city received 22 out of 29 points, with two bonus points, for issues such as non-discrimination in city employment, domestic partner health benefits, and equivalent family leave.

“This is a good place for gays and lesbians to live, it’s a good place for most people to live, we are very lucky to be living in the town we do,” Throgmorton said.


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