St. Pete and Orlando earn perfect municipal equality scores from HRC

By : Staff Report
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Orlando and St. Petersburg are among the record number 47 cities in the U.S. to score a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2015 Municipal Equality Index.

The City Beautiful and St. Pete are joined by Wilton Manors as the three Florida cities who scored perfect marks on the HRC’s index that measures a city’s policies for LGBT inclusion and equality. Tampa was not far behind with a score of 95.

The MEI rates each city based on five categories; non-discrimination laws, municipal employment policies, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and municipal leadership. Perfect scores are earned by cities with exemplary LGBT policies, ranging from non-discrimination laws and equal employee benefits, to cutting-edge city services and strong relationships with the LGBT community.

Not all of Florida’s big cities fared so well on the MEI. Miami received a score of 52 and Jacksonville got a 26.

Jacksonville’s score reflects what its environment has been like as LGBT rights activists are trying to get sexual orientation and gender identity added to the city’s HRO. A series of meetings to discuss the HRO have been met with anti-gay rhetoric, bomb threats and the appearance of KKK propaganda.

“While this has been an historic year for equality, we are constantly reminded of just how far we still have to go,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a press release. “In too many communities, LGBT Americans continue to face barriers to equality, overt discrimination, and even violence. We believe those challenges make full equality and strong legal protections all the more important, and today’s report makes clear that hundreds of local communities throughout all 50 states wholeheartedly agree.”

A little more than half of the Florida cities scored ranked above the national average of 56 points, the lowest total going to Port Saint Lucie with a score of 14.

The MEI removed relationship recognition from the metrics this year due to the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage last June.

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