The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has released its ranking of 506 cities, including eight in Arkansas, on equal treatment of LGBT people.
Only two of the eight Arkansas cities — Fayetteville and Eureka Springs — scored above the national mean score of 55.
The Municipal Equality Index rates cities on 44 criteria in five broad categories:Non-discrimination laws; Municipal employment policies, including transgender-inclusive insurance coverage and non-discrimination requirements for contractors; Inclusiveness of city services; Law enforcement, including hate crimes reporting; Municipal leadership on matters of equality.
The scores in Arkansas:
Eureka Springs 64
Little Rock 45
North Little Rock 20
Fort Smith 18
Arkansas suffers in the rankings because we have no state non-discrimination law. We also have a law that provides a religious pretext for discrimination in employment, housing and accommodations. We also emulate North Carolina with a law — currently being pressed in court by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge — meant to prevent cities and counties from passing non-discrimination ordinances of their own, as a handful of cities and counties have done. About 20 states, covering 42 percent of U.S. population, have non-discrimination laws.