Lexington named top city in Kentucky for LGBTQ equality. Here’s where others rank

Alex Slitz/aslitz@herald-leader.com

For the second year in a row, Lexington received the highest marks of any Kentucky city for policies that support LGBTQ inclusion and equality, according to a nationwide ranking.

The annual Municipal Equality Index, MEI, review is based on how inclusive city laws, policies and services are of their LGBTQ communities.

The city scored 110 out of 100. The index gives cities additional points for various policies. The highest score possible is 122.

That score puts Lexington in the top 20 cities in the country for LGBTQ equality, according to the index.

Cities in other nearby states that have higher scores include Virginia Beach, Virginia and Columbus, Ohio.

“Lexington has risen to the top to be recognized as the best in Kentucky, and among the best in the nation, and we will continue the work to be even better,” said Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton.

The city has worked to up its score in the annual index and has created a task force to look at inclusion and equality.

Lexington has been rated by the Human Rights Campaign since 2013. The city has progressively improved its score, moving up from an initial rating of 53. In 2019, Gorton’s first year in office, Lexington’s score was 93.

In 2021, the city received a score of 106.

Lexington was the first city in Kentucky to pass a Fairness Ordinance, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, in 1999. Former Mayor Jim Gray was the first openly gay mayor to be elected to the city’s top office. Gray served from 2011 to 2018 before choosing not to seek a third term.

In addition, the city has passed measures that allow for domestic partner benefits for city employees, has appointed LGBTQ liaisons in the police department and at city hall, and in 2021 passed a local ban on youth conversion therapy.

Louisville and Covington, which have also passed local bans on youth conversion therapy, scored 100 each, coming in second to Lexington.

Here’s how other major cities in Kentucky scored on the index:

  • Morehead: 65

  • Owensboro: 38

  • Bowling Green: 40

  • Berea: 55

  • Frankfort: 66

To read the Municipal Equality Index go to www.hrc.org/mei.