The Capital Region’s LGBTQ community has a new reason to be proud. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation—the educational wing of the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization—recently assessed LGBTQ equality in 506 cities across the nation, and Albany scored a perfect score of 100. That’s according to the HRC’s 8th edition of the Municipal Equality Index, which is the only major national assessment of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal policies and legislation.
“It’s not surprising that Albany scored 100 in LGBTQ Equality,” says Martha Harvey, executive director and CEO of the Pride Center of the Capital Region, the longest continuously operating LGBTQ community center in the country. “As LGBTQ leaders in this city, the Pride Center has fought for and retained a seat at the table.” Founded in 1970, just a year after the famous Stonewall Riots that sparked the country’s modern-day LGBTQ rights movement, Albany’s Pride Center serves as the flagship organization for LGBTQ events, outreach and fundraising in the greater Capital Region. For almost half a century now, the center has worn quite a number of hats—from operating youth drop-in centers to organizing the annual Capital Pride Parade—as it’s worked with other regional pride programs and nonprofits across the 11 counties of the Capital Region, which include Saratoga County.
“The Pride Center’s where it all started and continues to thrive,” says Tas Steiner, who founded Whispering Angels of Saratoga Springs (WASS), and raises funds and awareness for a host of LGBTQ issues throughout Saratoga County. “I’m glad LGBTQ organizations in Saratoga and the Capital District area can work so well together.”
In all, ten cities in New York State scored an average of 85 out of 100 points on the index, well above the national average of 60. Other cities in the state to receive a perfect score included Yonkers, Rochester and New York City. “Albany’s leaders operate with the understanding that striving to make this city LGBTQ inclusive and friendly just makes good business sense,” says Harvey. “Having a voice and being heard is key to creating a city where LGBTQ community members truly feel equal and valued.”