Arlington County has again been named one of 41 American “All-Star Cities” for its high standards of inclusiveness and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities.
Arlington scored 93 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI). HRC is the country’s largest LGBTQ-rights group. Its annual MEI measures the effectiveness of local governments in ensuring LGBTQ inclusion through their laws, policies and services.
“Arlington continues to be a leader in Virginia in protecting members of our LGBTQ community from discrimination and mistreatment,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette, Virginia’s first openly gay elected official. “We are proud of our welcoming tradition. We value diversity and embrace people’s differences as a source of this community’s strength and resilience.”
Arlington and Alexandria were the only municipalities in the Commonwealth of Virginia to achieve “All-Star” status, which requires a score above 85. The average MEI score among localities in Virginia was 49 out of 100.
Virginia lacks inclusive statewide laws protecting LGBTQ residents against discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations based on gender identity or sexual orientation. The Dillon Rule prevents local governments in the state from acting on issues in which authority has not been explicitly granted by the General Assembly. The MEI report hailed communities like Arlington as beacons of hope within such environments.
Arlington’s Human Rights Ordinance prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, private education, commercial real estate transactions and public accommodations based on sexual orientation along with race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, marital and familial status and pregnancy. Arlington’s Human Rights Commission follows current federal EEOC guidelines and interprets sex and gender protections as including gender identity and expression.
The Arlington County Equal Employment Opportunity Policy protects Arlington County employees and applicants for employment from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.