ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced that Columbia has scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) 2023 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) scorecard. The MEI is a nationwide evaluation of 506 cities on how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people who live and work there. This is the second consecutive year that Howard County has achieved a perfect score. 

Named the ‘Best Places to Raise a Family’ and ‘Best Places to Live in the U.S.,’ and recognized as one of the Best U.S. Cities for Jobs, Safest Cities in America, Happiest Cities in America, Best Cities for People Living with Disabilities and Best City for Summer Jobs, it is no surprise that Columbia has been recognized by HRC as one of its ‘All-Star’ cities. In Columbia and in Howard County, we remain dedicated towards building a more inclusive world for our LGBTQ+ residents, where they feel supported, safe, seen, and respected. Since taking office, our team has worked tirelessly to ensure that every member of our community can be their true selves and celebrate who they are. I am truly honored that we have earned this designation for two consecutive years, building on our continued efforts to support all our residents, no matter who they love.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

The MEI is an evaluation of the city’s law and policies, and an examination of how inclusive city services are of LGBTQ+ people. Cities are rated on a scale of 0 to 100 based on a city’s non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and leadership on LGBTQ+ equality. There are 100 standard points and 22 flex points; flex points are awarded for items which apply to some but not all cities. All public scores are capped at 100 points. 

Receiving a perfect score of 100 in the Human Rights Campaign's Municipality Equality Index Scorecard for a second year in a row is not just a recognition, it is a testament to our ongoing commitment to creating a county that is equitable, inclusive, and safe for all LGBTQIA+ persons to live, work, and play. I am heartened by our county’s achievement, but I am also mindful of the journey ahead. We must continue our work to ensure that every member of our diverse community feels not only welcomed but truly seen. This accolade is not a finish line but a reminder that our efforts matter, and our progress must continue. I am pleased that our ongoing initiatives, including the formal establishment of the LGBTQIA+ Commission by County Executive Ball, underscore our dedication to advocacy and equity. Together, with the collaboration of community members, leaders, and stakeholders, we are determined to champion the rights and full inclusivity of all Howard County LGBTQIA+ residents.

Yolanda F. Sonnier
Administrator, Howard County Office of Human Rights and Equity

The goal of the HRC is to ensure that all LGBTQ+ people, particularly those who are trans, people of color and HIV positive, are treated as full and equal citizens within HRC’s movement, across the United State and around the world. By inspiring and engaging individuals and communities, the HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and realize a world that achieves fundamental fairness and equality of all. 
“We’re always thrilled to see quantifiable and verifiable proof that Howard County, MD ranks at the top of the MEI. Being an All-Star City shows people throughout the country exactly where they can feel safe being themselves,” said Chris Hefty, Chair, LGBTQIA+ Commission. “This title is also a responsibility. Our county must uphold all its doing that got us a top score. While we celebrate great achievements such as this, it is also important to recognize that being on top doesn’t mean the work is over. We as a county must continue to outdo ourselves while encouraging other cities and states to do the same.”

To learn more about the HRC and the MEI, visit www.hrc.org/mei

Media Contacts
Safa Hira, Director of Communications

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