Augusta earns low mark on gay, lesbian equality scorecard

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Augusta is falling behind on the path towards gay equality, according to a Human Rights Campaign scorecard measuring inclusivity released this week.

The city scored 12 out of 100 possible points on the Municipality Equality Index, a rating of the inclusivity of laws, policies and services for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders who live and work in Augusta.

Augusta earned zero points in four of the six categories including nondiscrimination laws, recognition of domestic partners on a registry, city employment fairness and law enforcement support for the gay community.

“The (low) score is to be expected,” said Lonzo Smith II, the vice president of the gay rights group Augusta Pride. “In the 20 years I’ve been in Augusta, the community has changed. But the public image has not changed.”

More people in Augusta are accepting of gays because many have friends, family and co-workers who are gay, Smith said. Still, the city’s Deep South roots have slowed progress.

“When it comes to progress, we are still in the Bible Belt. People are rooted in traditional values, and it’s really hard to break away from that,” Smith said.

This was Augusta’s first time being scored on the Municipality Equality Index, which was created in 2012. Seven municipalities were scored this year in Georgia, which had an average score of 39. Atlanta scored a perfect 100, Columbus scored 20 and Athens earned a 44.

Jacqueline Humphrey, Augusta’s Equal Employment Opportunity director, said local recruitment and hiring processes need improvement. Policies need to be applied more consistently and in accordance with state and federal regulations, she said.

“When there’s no area of transparency or the guidelines are inconsistent, there’s room for things to be interpreted in a negative way,” she said.

Augusta earned seven points for having a human rights commission, but Augusta’s Human Relations Commission, which studied racial and cultural issues, was disbanded several years ago although it is still listed on the city’s Web site. Humphrey said the city needs to reinstate the commission.

Smith said gay inclusivity won’t change without strong leaders that reach out to gays and enforce equal policies.

“Politicians are forgetting a huge part of their constituents,” he said.

On the report card, Augusta scored three out of five possible points for leadership with a commitment and advocacy for full gay equality. The city earned two bonus points for engaging with the gay community.

Augusta also is losing talented people who can contribute to the city’s economy because they do not feel welcome or safe, Smith said. He said he knows people who moved to cities where they felt more free to express themselves.

“If you don’t feel safe in the community you call home, you leave the community you call home,” he said.

READ MORE

The full Municipal Equality Index report, including the area’s scorecard is available by visiting hrc.org/mei.

READ MORE

The full Municipal Equality Index report, including Augusta’s scorecard is available by visiting hrc.org/mei.

Comments (14) Add comment
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Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 11/21/13 - 10:47 pm
10
1
Oh, good grief. Yet another

Oh, good grief. Yet another group who feel they're getting a raw deal by their community and their government. I guess giving out grades is supposed to shame the city? And claiming that constituents are being forgotten doesn't smack of a possible voter retaliation? If Augusta is so bad,...and that score is terrible, isn't it??...then maybe Hotlanta would be a better place to live.
One more thing....what exactly is the Augusta gay population percentage that we're talking about anyway??

carcraft
25030
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carcraft 11/21/13 - 10:54 pm
7
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Who cares? Move ta Atlanta!

Who cares? Move ta Atlanta!

Dixieman
13861
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Dixieman 11/22/13 - 11:40 am
11
2
Well....

....that just breaks my heart!
Human Rights Campaign is a self-appointed group of busybodies. Who cares what their preconceived notions are?
Don't feel comfortable in Augusta? "Delta is ready when you are".
============================
Sad progression:

1894: "The love that dare not speak its name," poem by Lord Alfred Douglas
1976: "The love that dares to speak its name," poem by James Kirkup
2013: "The love that just will not shut up about itself." I said that.

OJP
6171
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OJP 11/22/13 - 08:06 am
2
7
Or. Or we could continue to live up to this county's ideal of

equality.

Ignore the rapidly marginalized attitudes of those who wish to live in the past (see above comments). Augusta, like the rest of the country, is moving forward.

This is a non-issue already. Times are changing fast and Augusta should get its act together so it doesn't lose any more talent due to this issue.

nocnoc
40308
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nocnoc 11/22/13 - 08:11 am
6
2
They have a score card for this?

I would hate to see what a 100 out of a 100 score would mean.

nocnoc
40308
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nocnoc 11/22/13 - 09:04 am
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2
BTW: what was the score for

Heterosexuals, Aka Norms.

Or how about Taxpayers (Gays or Norms)?

How so many other things categories?.

Just how many whining liberal groups are there out there, that are
in our faces about being different, but want to be treated the same as what they just bragged about different than?

Their message is confusing...

grinder48
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grinder48 11/22/13 - 08:51 am
1
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Absurd
Unpublished

JMO, carcraft, and Dixieman are exactly right. This is absurd.

soapy_725
43598
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soapy_725 11/22/13 - 09:59 am
1
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Everyone is equal. Some are more equal. Remember.
Unpublished

Everyone is equal. Some are more equal. Remember.

soapy_725
43598
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soapy_725 11/22/13 - 10:01 am
0
0
Sodom and Gomorrah in the CBD. Gay yet persecuted.
Unpublished

Sodom and Gomorrah in the CBD. Gay yet persecuted.

soapy_725
43598
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soapy_725 11/22/13 - 10:03 am
0
0
How about the committed heterosexual minority? Where is their
Unpublished

pride parade? Where are their special entitlements?

soapy_725
43598
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soapy_725 11/22/13 - 10:04 am
0
0
Adulterers arise & demand your rights in the ARC of No Covenant
Unpublished

Adulterers arise & demand your rights in the ARC of No Covenant

soapy_725
43598
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soapy_725 11/22/13 - 10:06 am
0
0
Dekester, declare a "Adulterers Pride Day". Equal rights for all
Unpublished

Dekester, declare a "Adulterers Pride Day". Equal rights for all

soapy_725
43598
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soapy_725 11/22/13 - 10:07 am
0
0
How about a "Raped ARC Taxpayers Appreciation Day"
Unpublished

How about a "Raped ARC Taxpayers Appreciation Day"

Little Lamb
44870
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Little Lamb 11/22/13 - 11:10 am
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0
Human Relations Commission

From the story:

Augusta earned seven points for having a human rights commission, but Augusta’s Human Relations Commission, which studied racial and cultural issues, was disbanded several years ago although it is still listed on the city’s Web site. Humphrey said the city needs to reinstate the commission.

A better plan would be to remove all references to the defunct Human Relations Commission from the city's web site.

robert2410
1628
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robert2410 11/22/13 - 11:10 am
9
0
Services for gays? Is there
Unpublished

Services for gays? Is there some special service gays need that anyone else does not?

Little Lamb
44870
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Little Lamb 11/22/13 - 11:37 am
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Laws

So this Municipality Equality Index is rating the inclusivity of Augusta's laws; silly me, I thought the laws applied to everyone. I didn't know homosexuals did not have to obey Augusta's laws.

Bizkit
30216
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Bizkit 11/22/13 - 11:48 am
2
1
Who is keeping score? Blame

Who is keeping score? Blame the gay community-life is what you make it. I'm a Christian, and Augusta gets poor scores and a 4 for intolerance of traditional values, and slack of tolerance for people of this faith. "We still live in the Bible Belt" OMG so the implication is this is bad and intolerable? Ah the Bible Belt myth.

john
926
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john 11/22/13 - 12:18 pm
3
0
how about

a index on going about your day and minding your own business? Its not about equality its about being catered to. There are some knuckleheads out there, but most people don't care if you are gay or not. Everyone needs to get over themselves and their aggrievement. Pardon my while I go eat my racist peanut butter sandwich.

InChristLove
22452
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InChristLove 11/22/13 - 01:33 pm
3
0
"“When it comes to progress,

"“When it comes to progress, we are still in the Bible Belt. People are rooted in traditional values, and it’s really hard to break away from that,” Smith said."

And Augusta is no different than other areas of the Bible belt like Druid Hill in Dekalb County, the state of Mississippi; Arlington, TX; Norfolk and Cheaspeake, VA; Chattanooga, TN; the state of Louisana; Birmingham and Montomery, AL; and not in the Bible belt, the state of Wyoming; and Hunington and Parkersburg, WV. All of these scored around the 12 point mark so what's their point.

The majority of society is accepting of gay and lesbians as individuals into their community, but there are some who will never believe in gay marriage and adoption. Nothing wrong with having traditional values...especially when they are moral values.

itsanotherday1
41367
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itsanotherday1 11/22/13 - 02:46 pm
2
0
Somebody please tell me how

Somebody please tell me how gays are being oppressed in Augusta? As John said, you will have a few ardent homophobes anywhere you go, but by and large most people could not care less what your sexual proclivities are as long as you don't wave it in their face. That is homo and hetero both.

Humble Angela
41338
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Humble Angela 11/22/13 - 03:39 pm
4
1
Can someone name one right a
Unpublished

Can someone name one right a heterosexual has that a homosexual doesn't have?

Humble Angela
41338
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Humble Angela 11/22/13 - 03:42 pm
2
1
And before someone chimes in
Unpublished

And before someone chimes in with marriage, keep in mind that marriage restrictions are exactly the same for hetorosexuals as they are for homosexuals.

Bizkit
30216
Points
Bizkit 11/22/13 - 04:17 pm
1
1
What's with all the

What's with all the complaining -they are "Gay". Paints a pretty picture. I don't see grounds for complaints-I can't call my life "gay". Some folks are never happy-even when they're "gay". Hard to muster sympathy for folks who are "gay" all the time. I can just picture that silly freakin' "gay" grin smilin' all the time-because they are so "gay". I think that's discriminatory. Fact is I can't think of the last time if ever I was "gay". Where's my social justice-I want to be "gay". Just not fair-for just one group of people to be so "gay". That sucks. I give that a 3 on my score card. Augusta discriminates against straight people with a community of folks hogging all the "gay" in town. We all have the right to be gay. I'm for gay rights=the right to be gay shouldn't just be for homosexuals. Augusta is heterophobic that heterosexuals can actually be gay too-like it is a crime to be "gay". Bigots and haters of "gay" people. If more people were gay it would be a better world with less violence.

Stunned 2
3574
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Stunned 2 11/22/13 - 09:15 pm
1
0
Gays are demanding 'special treatment', not equality

Gays are demanding 'special treatment', not equality. They will continue to whine until we all start praising them with undivided attention. I heard a commercial or public service announcement on TV stating this is BLGT (or whatever) month. So, when is 'Heterosexual' month?

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