The national LGBT lobbying organization Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released its second annual ranking of U.S. cities according to their gay-friendly policies, and once again New Orleans was the only Louisiana city to earn a near-top mark. The Crescent City got 91 of 100 points on HRC's "Municipal Equality Index," while Baton Rouge received only 7 points. Both cities improved from last year's HRC report, in which New Orleans received a 79 and Baton Rouge got a 2 — one of the worst rankings for a metro area. (This year, the organization ranked a third city, Shreveport, which received 16 points.)
HRC also cited New Orleans as one of the metro areas with "High Scores in States Without Supportive State Law," saying, "These cities and many more demonstrated that cities across the country have a commitment to LGBT equality that is unbridled by regionalism and not confined to the parts of the country many people assume are most LGBT-friendly."
While Louisiana bans both same-sex marriage and civil unions in its state constitution, New Orleans has recognized domestic partnerships since the 1990s, provided benefits to partners of city employees and passed its first nondiscrimination ordinance for gays and lesbians in 1991. Baton Rouge neither recognizes same-sex relationships nor has nondiscrimination laws in place regarding LGBT people. — Kevin Allman