FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A recent report from the Human Rights Campaign shows Fort Wayne is failing the LGBTQ community. The Municipal Equality Index (MEI) “examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there.”
Fort Wayne scored a 40/100.
The MEI looks at non-discrimination laws, a municipality as an employer, LGTBQ relations with law enforcement, and public position on equality. It also takes into account county and state relations.
The city of Fort Wayne scored points in having non-discrimination laws for employment and public accommodations, but not housing. Allen County does not have any laws protecting non-discrimination of individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Fort Wayne scored points by having a Human Rights Commission, but lost points for not having a LGBTQ liaison in the city executive’s office and police department.
The MEI scored Fort Wayne a 1 out 5 for leadership’s public position on LGBTQ equality.
The Human Rights Campaign also reported MEI’s on Bloomington, Evansville, Hammond, Indianapolis, Muncie, South Bend, Terre Haute, and West Lafayette.
For comparison, Indianapolis scored an 89/100, Terre Haute scored a 42/100, Bloomington scored a 100/100. Fort Wayne scored the worst in Indiana.
Executive director of Fort Wayne Pride Nikki Fultz doesn’t believe Fort Wayne’s score reflects the current state of LGBTQ inclusiveness.
“I think our city is growing so quickly and we’re trying to attract new talent, we have to make people realize we are more inclusive than a 40 says,” says Fultz.
She says the mayor’s office is making efforts, but they could do more to improve the score.
“I don’t think it’s any malice at all. I think there is a respect there. But I do think they could go a few steps further, and say ‘What do we need to do to address this? How can we raise this score to get us so we’re competitive in this market,'” says Fultz.
To read Fort Wayne’s MEI, click here.
To read the Human Rights Campaign’s full report, click here.
The city of Fort Wayne provided this response:
The City of Fort Wayne works each day to be a welcoming and inclusive community. It’s important to support equality and ensure that Fort Wayne is inviting for all residents as a great place to live, work and play. We want everyone to feel valued, respected and appreciated. Fort Wayne leaders have been and will continue to be involved in LGBTQ outreach and support and explore more areas for future opportunities.”John Perlich, Mayor’s Office
This is the second year in a row Fort Wayne received a 40 and has the lowest score in the state.