First and only city in S.D. to receive top ranking for LGBTQ inclusivity

A standing-room-only crowd turned out to celebrate the perfect score earned by the City of Brookings in the 2018 Municipal Equality Index. The presentation was made by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation at McCrory Gardens late Wednesday afternoon.

The Municipal Equality Index (MEI) score is a critical measure of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) inclusivity from the Human Rights Campaign, which is the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, according to an announcement on the city’s website.

No other city in South Dakota received a score of 100, said Collen Kutney, senior manager of the state of municipal program for the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C.

“First and only 100-point city in the state,” Kutney said.

Brookings has held the highest score in the state since the MEI came out in 2013, Kutney said.

But it wasn’t an auspicious start, said Steve Bayer, chair of the Brookings Human Rights Commission: Brookings debuted with a score of 34 out of 100.

The city set out to improve its score and its message by continually raising its score. Last year, Brookings had a score of 72.

In February 2017, the HRC presented a resolution of inclusivity to the Brookings City Council and it passed unanimously, but councilors felt the words were just not enough. Brookings drafted what would be the first comprehensive LGBTQ inclusive non-discrimination ordinance in the state, and the council passed it in September 2017.

“This brave action catapulted Brookings to a perfect 100 in the state,” Bayer said emotionally. “Brookings is truly a place where you can bring your dreams.”

By: Jodelle Greiner, The Brookings Register

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