These cities are the friendliest to LGBTQ residents in NJ, study says
JERSEY CITY — A report examining LGBTQ acceptance across the country ranks Jersey City higher than any other New Jersey community — with a perfect score.
According to the report by the Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation Institute, the city was perfect in all five categories measured: non-discrimination; municipality as employer; services and programs; law enforcement; overall relationship with the LGBTQ community.
Coming in a close second was Lambertville, which received a score of 98, losing some points in the "municipality as employer" category. Hoboken received a score of 92, losing points in the same category as Lambertville and in the "services and programs" category.
The study, known as the Municipal Equality Index, looked at 507 cities across the country, including all 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the country, and the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, according to the Human Rights Campaign. No reasons were given in a report on the study as to why cities lost specific points in the findings.
The study showed that Jersey City was one of just 68 cities to receive a perfect score.
"We are proud that the Human Rights Campaign has awarded Jersey City a 100-percent rating five years in a row," Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement sent to New Jersey 101.5. "Whether it was hosting the first gay marriage ceremony in the state, offering trans-inclusive health coverage for municipal employees or requiring LGBT sensitivity training for our police officers, we have been proud to stand with the LGBT community to ensure we remain as inclusive as possible and contribute to the wealth of diversity for which Jersey City is very proud and remains a national model."
Lambertville Mayor David DelVecchio told New Jersey 101.5 that the LGBTQ population is "an important part of our community."
"We are very proud of the grade we received," he said. "We're a place where we held the first civil union, we held the first same-sex marriage, and this is important to us."
"The 2017 MEI shows that cities all around the country understand that LGBTQ equality cannot wait — that true inclusivity is a moral and economic imperative that cannot and should not wait on slower-moving higher level government," the campaign said in the report. "Given that this is the first year that both MEI criteria and rated cities remained unchanged from the year prior, this report directly demonstrates the encouraging and steady pro-equality trend of cities of all makeups and sizes."
Montclair was the lowest New Jersey municipality listed, with a score of just 61. It got zero points for relationship with the community, and low scores in services and programs and law enforcement.
Bruce Morgan, the township's affirmative action officer, said that while he was disappointed in the score, he did not believe it to be a negative for the town or the residents overall. Morgan said he believes that one of the reasons the score was so low is that there are programs and organizations outside of the government's purview that provide more than enough for the LGBTQ community.
"We have a very progressive LGBTQ town," he said. "We support the LGBTQ organizations that are already here. They don't really ask for or need a lot of government support because we live in such a progressive town."
Morgan said he believes the LGBTQ community in Montclair knows that if there are needs not being addressed, they can approach the administration to have those needs met.
"I think it's kind of a false positive in terms of how welcoming Montclair is to all kinds of people, including the LGBTQ community," he said.
Other New Jersey municipalities receiving lower grades included New Brunswick (65), Ocean Grove (63), Paterson (64) and Trenton (69).
"This remarkable, sustained pro-equality progress could not be possible without tenacious city leaders willing to do the right thing, right now," the survey says. "During a time when opponents of equality on the state and federal levels are rolling back hard-fought LGBTQ protections, it is more vital than ever for city leaders to speak out against inequality and do everything in their power to protect their citizens from prejudice and discrimination."
More From New Jersey 101.5
Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com