ITHACA, NY – Whenever there’s a list ranking cities against each other, Ithaca tends to top the list on anything traditionally seen as liberal — from vegetarianism to overall “hippieness.”

Surprisingly, it fell a bit short on the issue of LGBTQ-friendly legislation and support, according to a report released by the Human Rights Campaign.

The list, called the Municipal Equality Index (MEI), is nationwide rating system of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal law and policy. 10 cities in each state are rated on a number of factors, such as non-discrimination law, municipal efforts to support the LGBTQ community and more.

To be clear, Ithaca didn’t perform poorly in the grand scheme. The city scored 74 out of a possible 100 points, which is above the national average of 55, but below the New York State average of 88.

Of the ten New York cities measured, Ithaca ranked eighth, surpassing only Brookhaven and Northwest Harbor. Albany, New York City, Rochester and Yonkers all scored perfect 100s. Syracuse and Buffalo scored 94 and 95 respectively.

The results aren’t disastrous, but they are certainly surprising for a city that touts itselfs as a progressive leader.

Where is Ithaca falling short?

The report measured five separate categories: Non-Discrimination Law, Municipal Employment, Municipal Services, Law Enforcement and Relationship with the LGBTQ Community.

Ithaca scored ten out of ten on Non-Discrimination Law, meaning that it’s laws about discrimination based on sexuality or gender identification are up to par.

On the issue of the city as an employer, Ithaca scored perfectly on non-discrimination of city employees. However, it scored zero out of six points for not offering transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits.

In Municipal services, the city was docked five points for not having an LGBTQ liaison in the Mayor’s office. It scored eight points for having a Human Rights Commission and anti-bullying policies.

In this category, Ithaca missed out on several bonus points due to not having services catering to people with HIV/AIDS, the transgender community and various specific demographic segments of the LGBTQ community.

In Law Enforcement, Ithaca lost 10 points due to the lack of an LGBTQ liaison or task force.

Lastly, in the relationship to the LGBTQ Community category, Ithaca got partial credit (three out of five) for its leaders’ publicly declared stances on LGBTQ issues. However, the city reserved no points for supporting pro-equality legislation and policy.

While Ithaca may have a little work to do to catch up with it’s fellow cities in New York, the overall tenor of the report was a positive one.

According to a press release, the report “shows that cities across the country, including in New York, continue to take the lead in supporting LGBTQ people and workers, even when states and the federal government have not.

(Featured photo by D.A. Lewis on Flickr)

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.