St. Pete receives perfect score in HRC’s Municipal Equality Index for third consecutive year

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Under Mayor Rick Kriseman, the city of St. Petersburg  received a perfect score of 100 for a third consecutive year in the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Municipal Equality Index.

The organization’s score, released in late October, represents how inclusive a city’s laws, policies and services are for the LGBTQ people who live and work there. Of the 18 Florida cities ranked by the Human Rights Campaign this year, St. Petersburg was only one of four to receive a perfect score. Orlando, Tallahassee and Wilton Manors rounded out the list of perfect scorers.

“St. Pete did it again!” Mayor Rick Kriseman celebrated the announcement via social media. “A perfect 100 score.” Under Kriseman, St. Petersburg has risen from a 66 percent.

The mayor elaborated on the positive news in a statement. “We are incredibly proud of our perfect score,” he said. “It is a reflection of our values and policy advancements and serves as a vital message point for us when recruiting people and businesses to our city.”

Jim Nixon, who this year joined the city as its LGBTQ liaison, echoed the mayor’s sentiments. “For the third consecutive year our city demonstrates [its] continuing commitment to equality for the LGBTQ Community and for all that live in our great city,” he said.

Kriseman, a vocal Democrat endorsed by former President Barack Obama and a longtime ally of the LGBTQ community, will face off against former mayor Rick Baker in the general election on Nov. 7. Baker, by contrast, has found himself at odds with the LGBTQ community for much of his career.

Ahead of the primary in August, in which Kriseman received 48.36 percent of the vote and Baker received 48.23 percent,Watermark spoke with the mayor about his hopes for continuing the city’s inclusive and trending score. “We need to continue to work to make sure that this is a welcoming, tolerant community where everyone feels respected and safe,” Kriseman told us. Baker did not respond to our multiple requests for comment.

The mayor also addressed supporters in August, cautioning that should Baker win November’s election, “he will turn the clock back on St. Pete. He will take us back to a time of back-room deals, to a time when the rainbow flag and the flag celebrating Black History Month didn’t fly proudly over City Hall, to a time when crime was up and opportunity was down.”

“This is a make or break moment for the future of St. Petersburg,” Stonewall Democrats President Susan McGrath agreed, speaking to Watermark after the primary election’s results. “We have two candidates who are diametrically opposite as far as the path they will take the city.”

Kriseman, elaborating on the Municipal Equality Index, noted that “we recognize that building an inclusive city never ends. There’s always work to do. We are committed to this work and ensuring that LGBTQ residents and visitors forever view St. Pete as a beacon of progress.”

With its third consecutive perfect score by the Human Rights Campaign in the books, the St. Petersburg LGBTQ community will have the opportunity to determine if the mayor’s commitment to equality will translate to their support at the ballot box on Nov. 7.

Polls are open on Nov. 7 from 7am – 7pm. Information on the candidates, the issues, polling locations and your voter registration status can be found at VotePinellas.com. You can also contact the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections by phone at 727-464-VOTE or by email at Election@VotePinellas.com.

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