East Lansing named LGBTQ-friendly city
East Lansing has extremely inclusive laws and policies for LGBTQ people, according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, or HRC.
The city scored a perfect 100 points on HRC’s Municipal Equality Index, or MEI.
The MEI “examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there. Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership's public position on equality,” according to the HRC’s website.
East Lansing was one of 68 cities to score 100 points, according to the MEI.
“I’m very proud that we’ve received that 100 percent score and we’re going to continue to work to make sure we continue to receive it,” Mayor Mark Meadows said.
There were 506 cities evaluated, including 11 Michigan cities. In addition to East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Detroit and Ferndale also scored 100 points.
In East Lansing’s MEI breakdown, the city scored a 94 with regular points and 10 bonus points, however no score could be greater than 100.
The only part that East Lansing lost points in was the transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits in the municipality as an employer category, scoring a zero out of six.
This means East Lansing does not offer transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits to city employees, according to the MEI.
All other categories, including nondiscrimnation laws and an LGBTQ police lasion officer or task force, received perfect scores.
Two of the bonus points East Lansing was awarded came from having an openly LGBTQ elected or appointed city leader.
Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier is openly LGBTQ and has been with her partner for almost 30 years.
"For me, it's one of things that I'm most proud about the city, not about the government and the city, but just the city and the people in this city," Beier said. "It's one of the reasons I live here. It's huge. I can do my little part, just by my own orientation and being elected, I got us three points."
The ranking is well deserved, Meadows said.
“I think that we should be proud of that. We’ve fought very hard for it,” Meadows said. “We’re in a lawsuit right now because of our attempts to ensure that everybody here is treated the same.”
East Lansing is facing a lawsuit for refusing to allow a vendor at the farmer’s market who would not allow LGBTQ couples to be married on his farm.
"If you live in East Lansing you will be comfortable," Beier said. "You'll be accepted, it's not a thing. Your orientation is just your orientation. It's not an issue, and that's the way it should be."
For a full breakdown of East Lansing's ranking, visit the MEI results here.