COLUMBIA, S.C. — The City of Columbia received the highest score for LGBTQ+ equality in South Carolina, according to a report from the Human Rights Campaign, a nationwide organization that strives to end discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and create equality for all.
"Columbia got a ranking of 82, which is the highest ranking in South Carolina," said Columbia City Council Member Tameika Isaac Devine. "It’s about being inclusive and intentional on making sure that the City of Columbia, our capital city, is inclusive to everybody."
The report looks at seven major cities in the state: Clemson, Charleston, North Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Rock Hill, Mount Pleasant, and Columbia. Clemson received a 0/100, but the Mayor told News 19, they never submitted their data to be scored from the HRC.
The City of Rock Hill received the lowest score, with a 17/100.
Cities were ranked by non-discrimination laws, municipality as employer, municipal services, law enforcement, and leadership on LGBTQ+ equality.
"The Human Rights Campaign looks at several things whether it’s your ordinances and laws, or the environment, liaisons, different things that they rank your municipality as it relates to progressing equality issues," Councilwoman Devine said.
She added banning conversion therapy in the city and the establishment of an equality advisory board helped increase the score. Councilwoman Devine said it's been more than five years since the city was scored high.
Jeff March, the president of SC Pride said it's exciting to see the Capital City progress in the right direction.
"It is a very good change for our city," March said. "We progressed 22 points, I believe, in a year. So it was nice that we paid attention to it and that we addressed some issues that we needed to fix in the city."
March said that, with new leadership starting next year, he hopes city leaders will continue their efforts to bring equality for all Columbia residents and move in the right direction.
"We’re getting a new city council, a new mayor, and I want to express that we will work together with the new group, and we hope that we can progress this," March said. "We’re at 82 out of a 100 so we’ve got 18 points ahead that we need to improve on."
March said the city is still lacking in inclusion for the transgender community and hopes to see that change in 2022.