A Definitive Ranking Of The Most LGBTQ-Friendly Mayors Of Major U.S. Cities
A lot of attention is paid to federal and state actions to protect and support the LGBTQ community, but a lot can be done on the local level to ensure everyone is treated equally and feels safe wherever they live. While some homophobic politicians actively work to keep discrimination legal, the most LGBT-friendly mayors of major U.S. cities are creating much more inclusive areas across the country. Let’s give them a big round of applause, learn from the awesome examples they’re setting in their respective states, and start packing up our apartments to move to one of their cities.
Big cities naturally attract more progressive residents, so they’re automatically more inclusive of their queer neighbors than most people who live in Bumfuck Nowhere U.S.A. While the mayors of said big cities could just sit back and rely on people to treat everyone else like human beings, many have been extremely proactive about guaranteeing that happens and pushing their already LGBTQ-friendly cities even further. Of course, some cities could be doing much more to champion LGBTQ rights, with mayors making an effort to look out for queer folks, prohibit discrimination, and engaging with the LGBTQ community in meaningful ways.
Here’s a definitive ranking of America’s biggest LGBTQ allies running major cities.
1. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee
San Francisco’s fearless leader, Democrat Ed Lee, goes above and beyond to stand with his city’s LGBTQ community. On Thursday, he appointed a senior advisor on transgender initiatives to work on LGBTQ policies and oversee development of new transgender initiatives. He said in a press release announcing the appointment:
“We should be adding more protections to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in the United States, not taking them away. With 11 states suing the Obama administration over the rights of transgender individuals, and many states on the verge of passing more discriminatory laws, San Francisco must lead the fight against this inequity.”
He’s been in office since 2011, and San Francisco received a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) 2015 assessment of LGBTQ equality in different cities. After North Carolina passed legislation banning transgender residents from using public bathrooms assigned to the gender they identify with, Lee retaliated by prohibiting any city-funded travel to the state.
2. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
Since assuming office in 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has made a point to push for more LGBTQ rights. He took a stance against discrimination by boycotting the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade his first two years in office, participating in the parade this year only after it lifted its ban on queer New Yorkers marching under their own banners.
New York City also got a perfect rating from HRC on LGBTQ rights, and de Blasio continues to push for more inclusivity. Amidst the national debate about bathroom rights for transgender individuals, the mayor issued an executive order allowing transgender New Yorkers to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity. “We want people to know they can go about their lives and not be excluded,” he said during a press conference. “That’s why this is so important. This is about affirming the right of someone to follow through on their own identity.”
3. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray
Before North Carolina thrust transgender rights into the national spotlight, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced an action plan, along with the city’s LGBTQ Task Force, to support a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for everyone. “We celebrate our history of advancing equity for the LGBTQ community and we will support efforts to make Seattle even more inclusive,” he said in a 2015 statement about the plan. The most notable parts of his directive sought to eliminate hate crimes against queer residents, direct more resources to LGBTQ programs, install rainbow crosswalks, and launch a public campaign to educate people about LGBTQ rights.
4. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, leading the Illinois city since 2011, supported anti-discrimination legislation introduced in May that would prohibit public accommodations (including hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores) from requiring that patrons show a government ID to prove their gender identity in order to access bathrooms or changing facilities. “Despite measures being enacted in other states, we as a country should be adding more protections — not taking them away — to prevent discrimination, which is why we’re proposing this additional measure to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals from discrimination in Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel said in a statement.
5. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
Los Angeles’ mayor since 2013, Eric Garcetti supported city council votes for the California city to stop doing business with North Carolina and Mississippi due to their homophobic laws. He also championed the Transform California campaign, aimed at raising awareness about transgender issues and challenges around the state. “Nobody should hate themselves, nobody should consider taking their own lives, and today we save lives we will never be able to count by just speaking up and standing up together,” Garcetti said at an April press conference.
6. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales joined Mayor Lee, Mayor de Blasio, and other cities’ mayors to form Mayors Against Discrimination in response to North Carolina’s offensive law. The group aims to pressure the state and others with discriminatory policies to become more inclusive through economic and political means. When Mississippi passed a law in April allowing businesses to refuse service to queer folks, Mayor Hales cancelled a planned trip to the southern state. “I’m appalled that this is happening in 2016 in the United States of America after the Supreme Court has already said that marriage equality applies in the whole country,” he told KATU’s Mary Loos.
7. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney
Philadelphia’s mayor, Jim Kenney, just took office in January, but has already proven that he values LGBTQ lives. He received endorsements from Philadelphia’s LGBTQ leaders during the election, and once elected, he joined Mayors Against Discrimination and banned all publicly funded and non-essential travel for city employees to Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Oxford, Alabama because of their discriminatory practices. “As Mayor, I will continue to make sure that equality is not just a buzzword, but a way of life in Philadelphia,” Kenney said while running for office.
Kenney’s predecessor, Michael Nutter, wanted to make Philadelphia “the most LGBT-friendly” city in America and made a lot of progress, including signing a law offering tax credits to companies that extend the same healthcare benefits to LGBT employees’ families as they do to straight employees’ families. So, Kenney came into a very LGBT-friendly office.
8. Austin Mayor Steve Adler
Austin’s leader, Steve Adler, has publicly opposed Texas’ proposed anti-LGBTQ laws — the most ever introduced in a single year. However, Adler’s reasoning focused more on how the discriminatory policies would affect business, not residents’ lives. “Apple is here, Google is here, because the people who work for Apple and Google, they want to live here,” Adler said at a rally in opposition to the proposals. “It’s real important that we not go down that path, and it is scary to me that our state Legislature right now is considering doing that.” While it’s great that he’s fighting the dangerous bills, he could do more to advocate for LGBTQ residents’ human rights.
Cities with LGBTQ-friendly mayors are slated to pass for protective and inclusive laws. These eight city leaders are helping move the nation in the right direction.