The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today released its third annual report assessing LGBT equality in 353 cities across the nation, including 15 in Florida.
The 2014 Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the only nationwide rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law and policy, shows that cities across the country, including in Florida, continue to take the lead in supporting LGBT people and workers, even when states and the federal government have not.
The average score for cities in Florida is 65 out of 100 points, which falls above the national average of 59. Orlando, St. Petersburg and Wilton Manors scored 100 points. Tampa scored 97, Oakland Park scored 87, Tallahassee scored 81, Fort Lauderdale scored 76, Hollywood and Miami Shores scored 61, Miami scored 53, Pembroke Pines scored 51, Hialeah scored 49, Cape Coral scored 22, Jacksonville scored 20, and Port Saint Lucie was at the bottom of the list with a score of 14.
“Local organizing is where we are best able to change hearts and minds, and the Municipal Equality Index has become a valuable tool in motivating city and county leaders to step up when it comes to non-discrimination policies for the LGBT community,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida.
Key findings contained in the MEI, issued in partnership with the Equality Federation, provide a revealing snapshot of LGBT equality in 353 municipalities of varying sizes, and from every state in the nation. The cities researched for the 2014 MEI include the 50 state capitals, the 200 most populous cities in the country, the four largest cities in every state, the city home to each state’s largest public university, and an equal mix of 75 of the nation’s large, mid-size and small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples.
Thirty-eight cities earned perfect 100-point scores, up from 25 in 2013 and 11 in 2012, the first year of the MEI. Orlando, St. Petersburg and Wilton Manors earned a 100-point score, helping to set a standard of LGBT inclusiveness with exemplary policies ranging from non-discrimination laws and equal employee benefits, to cutting edge city services.
The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.