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Buffalo improves its ranking in treatment of LGBT community

Two years after getting a poor ranking, Buffalo earned a strong score this week in a national measure of how lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are treated.

The Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization, gave Buffalo a score of 92 out of 100 in its 2015 Municipal Equality Index.

Buffalo received the second-highest score among eight cities in the state that were studied, behind New York City, Rochester and Yonkers, all of which received scores of 100. The state average was 85.

Two years ago, Buffalo got a score of 52 and last year received a 73.

The study looks at categories like non-discrimination laws, municipal services, the municipality as an employer, law enforcement and the relationship with the LGBT community.

Among the biggest improvements in Buffalo’s scores were measurements of “leadership’s public position on LGBT equality” and “leadership’s pro-equality legislative or policy efforts.” Having received a zero in both of those categories two years ago, Buffalo got seven out of eight points this year.

The city also picked up full marks in the categories of “non-discrimination in city employment” and “city contractor non-discrimination ordinance.” Two years ago, the city got scores of zero for those two.

Buffalo’s improvement came in part because of the strengthening of the city’s anti-discrimination law in October, said Matthew Crehan-Higgins, senior director of the Pride Center of Western New York.

Crehan-Higgins, who credited Niagara District Councilman David A. Rivera for his leadership on the issue, said the changes meant the law could be enforced.

Crehan-Higgins noted the record number of 100-point scores issued nationally, a significant move considering that 11 years ago there were state referendums against marriage equality, he said.

While no place is perfect in its treatment of members of the LGBT community, there’s been much more buy-in and acceptance, including legislatively, in recent years.

“It’s been almost like a groundswell,” Crehan-Higgins said.

This year’s study looked at 408 cities across the country. The average score nationally was 56.

Forty-seven cities received perfect scores.

The Human Rights Campaign said it used more demanding criteria in its evaluations this year.