New Jersey communities are ahead of the national curve when it comes to inclusion and equality for their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer citizens, according to a new study.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, in partnership with the Equality Foundation, released its 11th annual Municipal Equality Index on Wednesday, November 30th, measuring LGBTQ+ equality in municipal policies, laws and services in 506 American cities, including a dozen in New Jersey, rated.
The average score in New Jersey was 86 out of a possible 100, well above the national average of 68. Five Garden State communities — Hoboken, Jersey City, Lambertville, Montclair, and Princeton — were among the 120 American cities that achieved perfect scores scored.
“LGBTQ+ people deserve to feel at home anywhere,” said US Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). “As LGBTQ+ Americans face enduring prejudice and hatred because of who they are and who they love, I’m proud to see communities in New Jersey receiving recognition for creating inclusive, welcoming communities. To live up to our ideals of freedom, justice and equality, we must ensure that the rights, safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ people are protected everywhere.”
Here’s how the 12 New Jersey communities scored:
- Asbury Park: 80/100
- Elizabeth: 71/100
- Hoboken: 100/100
- Jersey City: 100/100
- Lambertville: 100/100
- Montclair: 100/100
- New Brunswick: 67/100
- Newark: 65/100
- Ocean Grove (Neptune): 89/100
- Paterson: 62/100
- Princeton: 100/100
- Trento: 89/100.
“It is indeed wonderful to see how well New Jersey has done overall on the HRC Index and (we are) particularly proud of Princeton’s perfect score as we hope our LGBTQIA safe space and the ones we offer.” Services have helped achieve this inspirational benchmark in some small measure,” said Robt Martin Seda-Schreiber, chief activist at the Bayard Rustin Center of Social Justice, based in Princeton since 2018.
The index ranked all 50 state capitals, the country’s 200 largest cities, the five largest municipalities in each state, the cities of the country’s two largest public universities, the 75 municipalities with high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities that were, according to a press release selected by members and supporters of the government group Human Rights Campaign and Equality Federation.
Each city was evaluated on 49 criteria covering non-discrimination policies as well as policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement and the city’s leadership on LGBTQ+ equality, Wednesday’s announcement said. The full report can be viewed at https://reports.hrc.org/municipal-equality-index-2022.
Pride of the Coast:Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn entered politics thanks to geese and a “lesbian cabal”.
HRC report 2021:How LGBT Friendly is New Jersey? See how cities have evolved
The index was released just days after the US Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which would ensure federal recognition of any marriage between two people if the union was valid in the state where they were married. As the national MEI average rose for the fifth straight year, in 2022 HRC reported that more than 345 anti-LGBTQ+ laws were being prosecuted at the state level across the country, with more than 145 of those efforts targeting transgender and gender nonconformities targeted people.
“We’re still seeing queer ‘folx’ across the identity and age spectrum facing even more violence on many different fronts, particularly our transgender youth,” Seda-Schreiber said in a statement. “We here at the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice absolutely respect how far our fellowship has come, but also recognize how far we still have to go, so we still need to come together to acknowledge, respect and support one another at all times and in everything to love ways we can.”