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Arlington Touts Itself as a ‘Role Model in Virginia LGBT Protections’

Arlington County courthouse and police headquartersArlington County says a new report card from the Human Rights Campaign affirms its efforts to extend outreach and equal protection under the law to LGBT individuals.

In a press release, the county said that it received perfect marks for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender protections, but was held back on overall rankings due to restrictive state laws.

From Arlington County:

The County received a score of 87 out of 100 in this year’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI) issued by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group. The annual report card graded 408 localities across the nation, measuring the effectiveness of state and local laws in achieving inclusivity.

Arlington won perfect scores for ensuring that LGBT constituents receive the fullest measure of County services, law enforcement efforts and outreach. It also received bonus points for having openly LGBT officials and for being “pro-equality despite restrictive state laws.”

County Board member Jay Fisette says Arlington’s high score in the MEI “validates us as a community that not only espouses a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, but applies those values in real ways that make a difference in people’s lives.” The index also shows, however, “that there’s still plenty of work to do to protect each and every Virginian.”

Although 47 jurisdictions in the United States achieved overall perfect scores, Virginia can claim none. Arlington and the eight other participating local governments in the Commonwealth were held back by a lack of state protections in areas such as transgender benefits for employees.

The so-called Dillon Rule prevents localities in Virginia from acting on those issues in which authority is not expressly granted by the General Assembly.

Fisette was the first openly gay elected official in state history.

There are currently no statewide laws in the Commonwealth that prevent discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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