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Local pressure has Human Rights Campaign reexamining its study

Rancho Mirage Mayor says city's score nearly doubled after meeting with study's author

PALM DESERT, Calif. - When cities known for a strong lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community get low scores on a national Human Rights Campaign survey, city leaders are bound to sound off. That noise paid off.   

"We demanded a re-look happen, and HRC was quite gracious and agreed to do that. In fact they dispatched the author of the study here to meet with us," Rancho Mirage mayor Scott Hines said.

"It's my job as city mayor to let the city know and the citizens where we are on their survey or any other survey that may come through," Palm Springs mayor Steve Pougnet said.

The HRC based the 1-100 scores on the city's laws, policies, and services. Rancho Mirage walked away with a 44. Mayor Hines' meeting with the study's author Cathryn Oakley proved successful.

"We're very happy to report our score has nearly doubled. So now we have a baseline to know what work needs to be done to have a full 100 percent," Hines said.

Also falling short on the original study was Palm Springs, coming in 10th place of the 21 ranked cities. Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet was mid-meeting with Oakley when we interviewed him.

"I'm certain we have identified areas, non-discrimination policies, things that will qualify as points to have Palm Springs near the top where it should be," Pougnet said.

Mayor Hines says he is glad to be on the same page as the HRC.

"I've always been a great advocate of the HRC they were there for me when I came out as a young military officer in Washington D.C., so this is not a slam on the organization," Hines said.

Mayor Hines said the HRC will release a corrected electronic publication with the new numbers.

"I think now our city's good reputation will be preserved and we feel a little vindicated at this point," Hines said.
The author Cathryn Oakley didn't get back to us for an interview. We will report the new exact results when we get them.

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