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"Cities are the most immediate iteration of democracy that we have," says Xavier Persad, legislative counsel for the HRC in Washington, DC.
City councils are simply faster and more nimble than state legislatures. Cities in the likes of Wyoming and Kentucky and Arkansas are the best chance for leading their deep-red states toward overdue changes.
We also wanted chill places with an LGBTQ scene, so we asked locals for their observations and impressions.Says Tony Ray Baker, of Gay Tucson: "Tucson was the first city in the US to enact a domestic partner provision way back in the '70s, and was also home of the first church to openly welcome gay members -- drawing the ire and protest of a very young Fred Phelps." Pissing off the Westboro Baptist Church patriarch is truly God's work, but Tucson marches on.The city also has an openly gay police chief who has enacted a new program called Safe Place.State law dictates that teachers must tell students "that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public." Just this March, the legislature moved to ban gays from adopting needy children, and the owner of a movie theater refused to show Gina Mallisham, a member of the Pride advisory board in Birmingham, says wryly, "Adversity is nothing new to disenfranchised people in the South." Birmingham, she says, "is a very affirming city," with a gay community big and active enough to support a 10-day, tri-county Pride celebration, a gay softball league, and a chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (a protest/performance art troupe of queer "nuns").There are also LGBTQ book clubs, church groups, and youth centers.