Orlando Tops List of Pro-Equality Cities in Florida.
New National Report Ranks LGBT Legal Protections.
WASHINGTON-- Orlando, Miami and Tampa are ranked as the top three cities for protecting the rights of gay and transgender Floridians while Jacksonville comes in a distant last, according to a new national report card issued this week.
The Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the first national rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law, features 11 Florida cities that have a high concentration of LGBT residents according to the latest census. The average score for cities in Florida is 52 out of 100 points.
From best to last:
Tampa (66), and
Wilton Manors (62) & Fort Lauderdale (62)
Oakland Park (54)
St. Petersburg (46), Tallahassee (46)
Miami Shores (34)
The report is compiled by the Human Rights Campaign in collaboration with state organizers, the Equality Federation and the Victory Fund and includes analysis by Equality Florida's Executive Director Nadine Smith on the game changing impact of local laws that include and protect LGBT equality. Smith praised the release of the study as an important tool in challenging cities to do better.
"As cities compete for jobs and talent, their commitment to equality and fairness are increasingly deciding factors,” said Smith. "This equality report card is a great way to let cities know what it takes to lead and what they risk by falling behind."
The release comes just days before a capacity crowd is expected for Tampa Bay's first Equality Florida's Equality Means Business luncheon, a major gathering of business and political leaders with the goal of improving Florida's reputation as a welcoming place to live, work and visit. The event is sponsored by Equality Florida and co-hosted by Tech Data and Florida Blue. It will feature an array of speakers including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.
The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories:
· Non-discrimination laws;
· Relationship recognition;
· The municipality’s employment practices;
· Inclusiveness of city services;
· Law enforcement; and
· Municipal leadership.
The full report, including long form scorecards for every city and a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.
Equality Florida is Florida’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.