State of LGBTQ Equality in 56 California Cities Detailed in HRC’s 7th Edition of the Municipal Equality Index

Gay Pride, Marriage Equality


WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute, released its seventh annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI), assessing LGBTQ equality in 506 cities across the nation, including 56 in California.

The 2017 Municipal Equality Index, the only nationwide rating system of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal law and policy, shows that cities across the country, including in California, continue to take the lead in supporting LGBTQ people and workers — even in the face of renewed attacks this year on the LGBTQ community by federal and state officials.

For LGBTQ Americans, legal protections and benefits vary widely depending on location — states and cities have markedly different laws governing discrimination. 21 states have non-discrimination laws that include protections for LGBTQ people in employment, and 20 states have laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in places of public accommodation. But cities are leading the way: since the MEI’s debut in 2012, the number of cities earning perfect scores has increased more than sevenfold, and today at least 25 million people live in cities that have more comprehensive, transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws than their state.

The average score for cities in California is 77 out of 100 points, which falls above the national average of 58.


Anaheim California 85
Bakersfield California 58
Berkeley California 96
Brisbane California 53
Cathedral City California 94
Chula Vista California 99
Concord California 81
Corona California 52
Elk Grove California 77
Escondido California 60
Fontana California 59
Fremont California 91
Fresno California 55
Fullerton California 77
Garden Grove California 55
Glendale California 70
Guerneville California 100
Hayward California 79
Huntington Beach California 61
Irvine California 83
Lancaster California 77
Long Beach California 100
Los Angeles California 100
Modesto California 59
Moreno Valley California 60
Oakland California 97
Oceanside California 100
Ontario California 52
Orange California 71
Oxnard California 58
Palm Desert California 94
Palm Springs California 100
Palmdale California 71
Pasadena California 85
Pomona California 72
Rancho Mirage California 100
Richmond California 86
Riverside California 65
Sacramento California 100
Salinas California 59
San Bernardino California 53
San Diego California 100
San Francisco California 100
San Jose California 100
Santa Ana California 55
Santa Clarita California 64
Santa Monica California 100
Santa Rosa California 74
Signal Hill California 95
Stockton California 70
Sunnyvale California 73
Thousand Oaks California 68
Torrance California 58
Vallejo California 81
Visalia California 62
West Hollywood California 100
Rancho Cucamonga California 68



“From San Antonio, Texas to Brookings, South Dakota — this year’s MEI again proves that there are no barriers to municipal LGBTQ equality for a city with dedicated, pro-equality elected officials,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Forward-looking leaders across the U.S. are stepping up, protecting their youth from so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ increasing anti-bullying protections, ensuring transgender city employees have access to inclusive health care benefits and protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in all areas of life. As we approach one of the most critical elections of our lifetimes, it is incumbent on all of us to make sure that we help elect more leaders across the nation who share this uncompromising commitment to equality for all.”

“Even as California continues to serve as a beacon of hope for LGBTQ people across the nation, the Municipal Equality Index shows how much work we have left to do right here in our backyard,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “We know the fight for civil rights and social justice doesn’t end in Washington, DC or Sacramento, and Equality California remains committed to working with cities across the Golden State to create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people — until the work is done.”

Since the MEI’s debut in 2012, the number of cities earning perfect scores has increased by more than sevenfold, and today at least 25 million people live in cities that have more comprehensive, transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws than their state.

Progress on transgender equality has been particularly noteworthy in cities across the U.S. this year, continuing a positive trend that the MEI has tracked — and encouraged — since 2012. Transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits are offered to employees of 147 municipalities this year — up from 111 in 2017, 66 in 2015 and just five in 2012. The MEI’s Issue Brief on Transgender-Inclusive Health Benefits is available here.

Other key findings from the 2018 Municipal Equality Index include:

  • 103 cities from states without comprehensive nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people scored above the overall nationwide average of 58 points. These cities averaged 83-point scores; 34 scored a perfect 100.
  • Cities continue to excel even in the absence of inclusive state laws: 46“All Star” cities in states lacking comprehensive non-discrimination laws scored above 85 points, up from 41 last year, 37 in 2016 and just two in 2012.
  • The national city score average increased from 57 to 58 points. 78 cities scored 100 points; 25 percent scored over 83 points; 50 percent scored over 58 points; 25 percent scored less than 36; and 15 cities scored zero points.
  • Cities are protecting LGBTQ youth. 17 MEI-rated cities enacted local protections against the harmful and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.”

The MEI rated 506 cities including the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the United States, the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 75 municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state group members and supporters. It assesses each city on 49 criteria covering citywide nondiscrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement, and city leadership’s relationship with the LGBTQ community. This year’s report also includes two new issue briefs for policymakers: Addressing the Unique Needs of LGBTQ Older People and Working Toward a Fully-Inclusive Municipal Workplace.

The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual,transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.




  1 comment for “State of LGBTQ Equality in 56 California Cities Detailed in HRC’s 7th Edition of the Municipal Equality Index

  1. TRUMPTASTROPHE for the GOP in November ️‍♂️
    October 10, 2018 at 2:33 am

    How does South Carolina rank these days in terms of states supportive of equal rights? Near the bottom no doubt.

    No wonder Lindsey Graham is still in the closet.

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