MKE Celebrates 100 Percent Human Rights Campaign

MILWAUKEE—Mayor Tom Barrett joined the City of Milwaukee Equal Rights Commission, Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa, and representatives from the Human Rights Campaign, Fair Wisconsin and FORGE to announced last week that the City of Milwaukee received yet another perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. In 2021, only 110 out of a total of 506 cities rated received perfect scores.

“We are proud of what the city has accomplished and thankful for everyone who has worked to maintain our strong Municipality Equality Index,” Mayor Barrett said. “We also acknowledge that building an inclusive city is an ongoing project, and Milwaukee is committed to continuing this effort.”

The Human Rights Campaign is the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer civil rights organization. The national 2021 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) report is the only nationwide assessment of LGBTQ inclusiveness in municipal law and policy. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Municipal Equality Index.

“Today we celebrate, and we challenge each other to do more. The ERC’s goal is to ensure that all LGBTQ people—and particularly people of color, those who are trans or nonbinary, and people with HIV—are treated with respect and dignity,” Tony Snell, Chair of the City of Milwaukee Equal Rights Commission said. “I’m incredibly proud of our city residents, Mayor, and Common Council members who hold equality for all to the highest standard.”

The City’s Equal Rights Commission works to promote racial, social and economic equity to the residents of Milwaukee. Currently, the Commission is working to implement procedures to bring gender-inclusive restrooms to City buildings, include preferred language protection under Chapter 109 of the Milwaukee Code of Ordinances and safely restart in-person community-wide listening sessions. The Equal Rights Commission also presents an informal virtual discussion on current topics in human rights available to the public each month on its Facebook page.

“This honor is so important for Milwaukee. As the City’s first openly LGBTQ+ alder, I’m incredibly proud that our policies are inclusive to all, and we will continue fighting for the rights of all citizens,” Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa said. “My most heartfelt gratitude goes out to all who made this high distinction possible.”

The City of Milwaukee takes many actions to champion LGBTQ rights, including adding enforcement mechanisms to the City’s Equal Rights Ordinance, banning conversion therapy, appointing liaisons in the Mayor’s Office and at the Milwaukee Police Department and providing trans-inclusive healthcare benefits. This year, the Milwaukee Equal Rights Commission has implemented a strategic plan and is creating a toolkit to increase its outreach, engagement and education services.

“The City of Milwaukee has been a statewide leader in enacting measures supportive of LGBTQIA+ residents for many years. In a time when LGBTQIA+ individuals are being targeted nationwide, we continue to work in partnership to ensure that Milwaukee is a safe, inclusive and equitable city for all,” Shelley Gregory, Strategic Project Coordinator at FORGE, a transgender antiviolence organization in Milwaukee, said.

Receiving a perfect score highlights the historic progress being made in the City of Milwaukee as it relates to LGBTQ-inclusive laws and policies, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and city leadership’s public position on equality.