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Phoenix and Tempe earn perfect scores on HRC's Municipal Equality Index

The Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index gave both Phoenix and Tempe perfect scores, making them champions of LGBTQ protection

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"Phoenix and Tempe stand with the LGBT community." Illustration published on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017.

Phoenix and Tempe both recently received perfect scores on their protection of the LGBT+ community in the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index

"This index addresses the spatial elements of heterosexist discrimination," said Eric Swank, an associate professor who teaches classes in the new queer and sexualities major on ASU's West campus. "Researchers and advocates are interested in seeing how sexual minorities are generally treated across different locations."

Cities were judged on the following: local laws that prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, neighborhood social service programs that serve members of the LGBTQ community, employment practices, efforts by the law enforcement community to serve the LGBTQ community and political responsiveness to LGBTQ political requests.

Jeremy Helfgot, founder of JM Helfgot Communications, is the spokesman for Phoenix Pride. Helfgot said that almost five years ago Phoenix adopted amendments to the city's Human Relations Ordinance that gave protections in employment, housing and public accommodation to citizens regardless of sexual identity or gender identity.

"It was a big step for the city to acknowledge those protections ... and in the time since, that law has been actively enforced," Helfgot said.

Helfgot pointed to a recent case where the court ruled that Phoenix-based wedding invitation companies must serve LGBTQ customers. The company owners had claimed that serving these customers violated their religious beliefs, but the court ended up ruling in favor of the city.

Michelle Mullings, a nursing freshman, is bisexual and an advocate of LGBTQ rights. She said that cities are doing a good job of protecting the LGBT+ community, but the community and allies need to rally together to pass legislature at a state level. 

"The main problem is that people don't realize how exactly LGBT people are oppressed," Mullings said. "It's in a really subtle way, through stigmatization and bias. Just because I can go marry a girl now, that doesn't fix all of our problems."

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