Utah Ranks Lower Than National Average In LGBTQ Equality Index
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released its seventh annualMunicipal Equality Indexearlier this month which assesses 506 cities across the country to see where the cities rank for LGBTQ equality. Eight of the 506 cities were in Utah and the index found the averaged score for Utah was lower than the national average.
“You know, when you compare Utah to other conservative red states, we’re actually much further along on LGBTQ rights," said Troy Williams, the executive director of Equality Utah. "So I would say that, in many ways, Utah is very friendly to our (LGBTQ) community.”
Williams said that while Utah’s averaged score ranked lower than the national average in the index, Utah is not doing too bad when it comes to LGBTQ representation in local government.
“When you look at the landscape of Salt Lake City, you’ve got a lesbian mayor, we’ve got three out gay city council members out of seven, we’ve got gay city council members in Ogden and also in Midvale," Williams said. "So this state is, you know, surprisingly very forward thinking in regards to LGBTQ people.”
Williams also said the state’s laws are pretty progressive for a Republican-controlled state legislature.
“Utah was the first state to overturn a gay marriage ban in 2013," he said. "And we’re the only conservative state to ever pass pro LGBTQ legislation through a Republican-controlled legislature. And we did that in 2015. No other conservative state has done that.”
While Utah has made great strides in LGBTQ rights, it can’t be ignored that Orem ranked the lowest of the eight Utah cities studied in the index, Williams said.
“Cleary Utah is a work in progress," he said. "We’ve made big advances in the legislature, but we’ve still got work to do in our cities. When you move into more conservative pockets of the state, a lot of folks don’t know the LGBTQ community as well – or don’t know that they know folks in our community – and so we’ve got some work to do in Orem and in more rural pockets of the state.”
Williams said wants people to know that Utah is a welcoming place – to all communities.
“We want to create a culture and a community of belonging – where people feel that they have a home here," he said. "We want to send a message to people all over the country that Utah is a welcoming place that it is a kind and generous state and we want to welcome all people to come and be our neighbors.”