Most LGBT-Friendly Cities - NerdWallet

Most LGBT-Friendly Cities

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here's how we make money.
shutterstock_156003761

Support for the gay community is higher than ever before—a recent Gallup poll shows that 55 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, compared to just 27 percent in 1996. With Pennsylvania and Oregon recently joining the growing list of states to overturn bans on gay marriage, the campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality is continuing to gain steam.

In honor of Pride Month, NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the most LGBT-friendly cities in the U.S. We considered the following factors in our analysis:

1.    Presence of gay community: we included the percentage of households with same-sex partners in each city

2.    LGBT-friendly laws and opportunities: we incorporated the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) 2013 Municipal Equality Index, which measures the equality of each city’s non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, employment practices, city services, law enforcement and municipality leadership

3.    LGBT safety and tolerance: to proxy for safety and tolerance for the LGBT population, we included the number of sexual orientation-related hate crimes per 100,000 residents in each city

For more information on affordability in each of these cities, check out NerdWallet’s Cost of Living Calculator.

Most LGBT-Friendly Cities

1.    Seattle, Wash.

Seattle is home to the highest percentage of same-sex households of all major cities in the U.S. and gay marriage is legal in the state of Washington. Furthermore, the city has an equality index of 100 and a relatively low rate of sexual orientation-related hate crimes. One of several organizations that help the LGBT population in Seattle is Families Like Ours, which aims to serve traditional and non-traditional families wishing to adopt or foster children.

2.    San Francisco, Cali.

San Francisco is known as one of the nation’s most gay-friendly cities, thanks to its large LGBT population and overall diversity and progressiveness. The San Francisco LGBT Community Center connects the city’s diverse community to opportunities and resources to foster a better environment for LGBT people.

3.    Atlanta, Ga.

The only southeast city among the top ten, Atlanta ranked highly due to its perfect equality score and its low rate of LGBT hate crimes. The Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce promotes economic growth and development of LGBT and allied business and non-profit members in the community.

4.    Oakland, Cali.

This Bay Area city is home to a diverse population, including a sizeable LGBT community. Oakland also features many LGBT-focused groups, including Oakland Pride, which promotes equality and celebrates the culture and diversity of the LGBT community in the Easy Bay Area.

5.    Long Beach, Cali.

Long Beach earned the highest possible equality score from the HRC and the city sees fewer LGBT-targeted hate crimes per 100,000 residents than most other places in the country. The Greater Long Beach LGBTQ Center provides education and assistance to the local community in an effort to advocate for equality and fight intolerance based on sexual orientation or gender.

6.    Minneapolis, Minn.

Minneapolis hosts the third highest share of same-sex households of all cities (behind Seattle and San Francisco) and boasts an equality index of 100. The state of Minnesota legalized gay marriage in May 2013. Twin Cities Pride is a local LGBT interest group that exists to foster inclusion and increase awareness.

7.    Austin, Texas

Austin, which has grown to become a major cultural hub in Texas, boasts the lowest rate of sexual orientation-related hate crimes of all top ten cities. The Austin Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce supports the economic growth and success of local LGBT businesses and organizations.

8.    Jersey City, N.J.

Jersey City boasts a low number of LGBT hate crimes and a perfect equality score in a state that has been recognizing same-sex marriage since October 2013. The Hudson Pride Connections Center is a local non-profit that advocates for the well-being of the region’s LGBT residents.

9.    St. Paul, Minn.

Thanks to a high equality index and a low rate of sexual orientation-related hate crimes, St. Paul joins its Twin City Minneapolis among the ten most LGBT-friendly cities.

10. Chicago, Ill.

Illinois will begin recognizing same-sex marriage on June 1, 2014, thanks to a law signed by its governor last November. Chicago is home to the Center on Halsted, one of the largest LGBT-focused community and advocacy centers in the Midwest. The city also celebrates Pride Month by hosting nearly 100 different social, cultural, athletic and political events throughout June.

Methodology

The overall score for each city was calculated from the following measures:

  1. Percentage of households with same-sex partners from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey
  2. 2013 Municipality Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign
  3. Number of sexual orientation-related hate crimes divided by 100,000 people per total population from FBI crime statistics

All three variables were weighted equally.

Gay pride flag image from Shutterstock

  • Did you find this article helpful?
  • yes   no
  • http://twitter.com/masyukun Matthew Royal

    Wouldn’t it make sense to normalize the hate crime index to each city’s normalized crime rate?

  • http://twitter.com/masyukun Matthew Royal

    Wouldn’t it make sense to normalize the hate crime index to each city’s normalized crime rate?

  • chucknevers

    Boston and Cambridge aren’t even listed? The birthplace of same-sex marriage, the earliest municipal protections for glbt employees, openly gay mayors and city councilors since the late 90’s, gay adoption in 1993….the list is endless. This is puff article and is without credibility or merit.

  • chucknevers

    Boston and Cambridge aren’t even listed? The birthplace of same-sex marriage, the earliest municipal protections for glbt employees, openly gay mayors and city councilors since the late 90’s, gay adoption in 1993….the list is endless. This is puff article and is without credibility or merit.

  • unknowneater

    I agree, I do not understand why Boston is not on here. I know it has an HRC score of 100 and the percentage of homosexual households is high. Did you even consider Boston?

  • unknowneater

    I agree, I do not understand why Boston is not on here. I know it has an HRC score of 100 and the percentage of homosexual households is high. Did you even consider Boston?

  • http://realestategals.com Real Estate Gals

    As a Seattleite, this makes us very proud of our city. We’ll see you at the Pride Parade!

  • http://realestategals.com Real Estate Gals

    As a Seattleite, this makes us very proud of our city. We’ll see you at the Pride Parade!

  • John Jones

    Does the measure of same-sex partner households ignore all gay people in a city who are not partnered? If so that seems like a weird way to measure “Presence of gay community.”

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

      Hi John,

      The percentage of households with same-sex partners is the only city-specific data recorded by the Census Bureau. Regardless, the data holds accuracy as a proxy for the presence of gay community because we’re measuring the share of gay households relative to other cities, not absolute population figures.

  • John Jones

    Does the measure of same-sex partner households ignore all gay people in a city who are not partnered? If so that seems like a weird way to measure “Presence of gay community.”

  • http://about.me/eric.s.riley Eric Riley

    Where does DC fit into this? We have an extremely high gay population, legal same-sex marriage for years now, openly gay elected civic leaders, tons of clubs… It seems odd to not even crack the top 20, especially since our weird population density makes us per-capita one of the gayest cities in the country.

  • http://about.me/eric.s.riley Eric Riley

    Where does DC fit into this? We have an extremely high gay population, legal same-sex marriage for years now, openly gay elected civic leaders, tons of clubs… It seems odd to not even crack the top 20, especially since our weird population density makes us per-capita one of the gayest cities in the country.

  • Jim

    How does Palm Springs not make this list…too small?

  • Jim

    How does Palm Springs not make this list…too small?

  • Richard

    West Hollywood???

  • Richard

    West Hollywood???

  • W. Michael Keller

    Amazing the cities listed…what happened to Palm Sprints? Spokane, WA is a great place to consider moving to whether you are LBGT or not. Check it out through me! W. Michael Keller, mtkeller36@hotmail.com

  • W. Michael Keller

    Amazing the cities listed…what happened to Palm Sprints? Spokane, WA is a great place to consider moving to whether you are LBGT or not. Check it out through me! W. Michael Keller, mtkeller36@hotmail.com

  • mark198

    What was the formula used? Just out of curiosity!

  • mark198

    What was the formula used? Just out of curiosity!

  • Bruce Yelk

    Philadelphia tied with Seattle on HRC’s Municipality Equality Index – This ranking does not seem to take into account HRC’s bonus scores and ranks all cities with a 100% score the same – which is not the case.

    Bruce Yelk – Visit Philadelphia

  • Bruce Yelk

    Philadelphia tied with Seattle on HRC’s Municipality Equality Index – This ranking does not seem to take into account HRC’s bonus scores and ranks all cities with a 100% score the same – which is not the case.

    Bruce Yelk – Visit Philadelphia

  • http://batman-news.com/ Cummbottom

    Data inaccurate regarding those whom classify as LGBTQ statistics residency. How
    this complied relying upon LGBTQ centers those whom participate as myself argument population is abundant bigotry. Still lingering when mention Bay area and
    Chicago those renowned cities when honor culture economic representation seldom include the contributions LGBTQ society what notice omitted lately gentrification Bay area,L.A,Boston,Long Beach and NYC respected LGBTQ neighborhoods only problem majority non managerial employed and renters. This not topic of article fairness where losing out is sudden this happen economics legislative motives promote growth for certain income groups unfortunately LGBTQ residents. Denied chance to contribute to industries populations only fragmented element of equality elated when read where given chance achieve. Fairness employment,housing and health coverage believe me there still entrenched homophobic attitudes cities mention are going let deter us no strengthen are goals! Some advocates stress assimilation of society this inaccurate companies disfavor acknowledging LGBTQ couples statistics accurate quarter whom employed. Civil employment sector and some non profits ideal global 5000 if American headquarter is stratified preference heterosexual bias remains! Equality n liberty now!

  • http://batman-news.com/ Cummbottom

    Data inaccurate regarding those whom classify as LGBTQ statistics residency. How
    this complied relying upon LGBTQ centers those whom participate as myself argument population is abundant bigotry. Still lingering when mention Bay area and
    Chicago those renowned cities when honor culture economic representation seldom include the contributions LGBTQ society what notice omitted lately gentrification Bay area,L.A,Boston,Long Beach and NYC respected LGBTQ neighborhoods only problem majority non managerial employed and renters. This not topic of article fairness where losing out is sudden this happen economics legislative motives promote growth for certain income groups unfortunately LGBTQ residents. Denied chance to contribute to industries populations only fragmented element of equality elated when read where given chance achieve. Fairness employment,housing and health coverage believe me there still entrenched homophobic attitudes cities mention are going let deter us no strengthen are goals! Some advocates stress assimilation of society this inaccurate companies disfavor acknowledging LGBTQ couples statistics accurate quarter whom employed. Civil employment sector and some non profits ideal global 5000 if American headquarter is stratified preference heterosexual bias remains! Equality n liberty now!