Richard Florida is a co-founder and editor at large of CityLab and a senior editor at The Atlantic. He is a university professor in the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management, and a distinguished fellow at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.
They are mostly found on the coasts, according to a new study.
The report [PDF] scores 137 cities on 47 criteria across six key categories: non-discrimination, relationship recognition, municipality as employer, municipality’s services and programs, municipality as law enforcement, and municipality’s relationship with LGBT community. Zara Matheson of the Martin Prosperity Institute mapped the data (below).
The dark blue dots (indicating cities that score 80 or above on the Municipal Equality Index) are mainly concentrated in the Northeast and West Coast. There are 11 cities, according to the study, with perfect 100-point scores. These cities are concentrated in small set of geographic corridors: New York, Cambridge, Boston, and Philadelphia along the East Coast's Bos-Wash Corridor; Los Angeles, Long Beach, and San Diego in Southern California; San Francisco in Northern California, and Portland and Seattle in the Pacific Northwest. St. Louis is the only city off the coasts with a perfect score.
There are, however, quite a few dark blue dots scattered across the interior of the country. Cities off the coasts that score highly on the Municipal Equality Index include: Denver (97), Chicago (95), Albany (95), Madison (95), Minneapolis (91), Austin (91), Fort Worth (89), Rochester, New York, (89), Salt Lake City (87), Milwaukee (85), Kansas City (85), Ann Arbor (84), Columbus, Ohio (83), Tucson (83), and Atlanta (82).
On the other side of the ledger, the yellow dots (indicating low scores on the Municipal Equality Index) are mainly found in the South and interior of the country. Three of the cities received scores of 0: Jefferson City, Missouri; Frankfort, Kentucky; and Montgomery, Alabama — all in the old South.
My own research finds tolerance toward the gay community to be an important factor in urban and regional development. In fact tolerance, along with technology and talent, is one of my 3Ts of economic development. I was delighted to write a foreword to the report, where I noted that:
Members of the creative class – the 40 million workers, a third of the American workforce… place a huge premium on diversity. In fact, they use it as a proxy to determine whether a city will provide a welcoming and stimulating environment for them… Openness and tolerance to the LGBT community is a huge component of this, as research I've conducted with Gary Gates of UCLA’s Williams Institute has shown.