Boise Doubles Its Score On Gay Rights Index, Still Lower Than Region

Dec 1, 2013

If this were math class, Boise would have failed its latest test.

About 150 people attended last year's Boise City Council meeting when the non-discrimination ordinance was approved. The measure passed unanimously, and helped the city gain points on the HRC municipal index.
Credit Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Boise got 56 points out of a possible 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) municipal equality index. This is the second year the national gay rights advocacy group has ranked Idaho's capital.

The DC-based organization looked at policies in all the capital cities in the country, as well as each state’s largest towns.

The index considered everything from non-discrimination laws and relationship recognition for same-sex couples, to how a city treats its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees.

So, since Boise got 56 points out of 100, that's an F, right?

“We don’t look at it that way,” says the HRC's Sarah Warbelow.

Warbelow says Boise has advanced equality in the last year, in large part due to the city council's unanimous approval of a non-discrimination ordinance last December. That policy scored Boise 18 points on the group’s equality report card.

“The average score nationwide was a 57," she says. "We certainly see lots of room for Boise to improve, but would not say at all that Boise is a failing city."

Warbelow says Boise also gained points on the index for adding a LGBT liaison in the police department. But she says the city could do more by creating a similar position in mayor’s office.

City Council member Lauren McLean co-sponsored the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. She says that before the ordinance passed, Boise only scored 26 points on the HRC report card.

“Boise should be proud that we’ve more than doubled our score," McLean says. "The Human Rights Campaign is recognizing that we’ve taken steps to make sure that everybody in our community feels welcome and included.”

Meridian and Nampa were also ranked on the Human Rights Campaign's index. Meridian scored 18 out of 100 and Nampa scored 24 points.

Nearby western cities did score higher on the index. Salt Lake City, Utah, received 87 points while Portland, Ore. and Missoula, Mont. each got a perfect score.
 
There is no statewide law in Idaho that protects LGBT people from housing, employment and public accommodation discrimination. Besides Boise, six cities have put some kind of non-discrimination law on their municipal books.

Here's the report card for Boise.

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio