For the first time, Montclair has received a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index — the highest ranking possible from the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.
The township has seen steady improvement on the index for the last few years, since what Councilman Peter Yacobellis called “abysmal” scores of 61 in 2017 and 58 in 2018. Yacobellis, who joined the council in 2020, is the township’s first openly gay elected official as well as the founder of Out Montclair, which provides resources and social events for the township’s LGBTQ community. In the time since the 2018 ranking, the township has revised some policies and put new resources in place. For instance, Montclair’s police department created an LGBTQ liaison position — earning the township 10 of 10 available points for doing so for the first time on the 2019 index. The township now raises a Progressive Pride Flag at town hall, and waives fees for youth groups such as the Gay Student Alliance for activities on town property. Montclair gets “flex” points for having Yacobellis on the council — awarded when a municipality has at least one LGBTQ elected or appointed municipal leader.