“Both companies and municipalities understand that embracing equality is not only the right thing to do — it also helps businesses and economies thrive,” says Alphonso David, HRC Foundation President.
It’s worth noting that not all cities are invited to participate in the HRC MEI. According to HRC, the cities that were chosen to participate were “the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the United States, the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities (including undergraduate and graduate enrollment), 75 cities & municipalities that have high proportions of same- sex couples (see page 19 for more information) and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state groups members and supporters.”
In Florida, 18 cities/towns participated, including Cape Coral, Coral Gables, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Hialeah, Hollywood, Jacksonville, Miami, Miami Shores, Oakland Park, Orlando, Pembroke Pines, Port Saint Lucie, St Petersburg, St Petersburg, Tallahassee, Tampa and Wilton Manors. Out of 18 participants, only 5 achieved perfect scores while 3 were just short of perfection.
How Scores Are Calculated
HRC reports that “Cities are rated on a scale of 0-100, based on the city’s laws, policies, benefits, and services. There are 100 standard points and 22 bonus points (bonus points are awarded for items which apply to some but not all cities).” It is important to note that the highest score possible to achieve on the HRC MEI is 100. While a few municipalities achieved a total calculate score greater than 100 all scores above 100 were capped at that perfect 100 ranking. For more information on the scoring system, see pages 20-24 of the HRC MEI Report.
Who Measured Up
Five Florida cities achieved perfect 100 scores on the HRC Municipal Equality Index. And three additional cities weren’t far behind. Here’s how each city measured up:
Tallahassee, Oakland Park and Gainesville: Next time!
Although these three didn’t knock it out of the park with a perfect score, their scores ranged between 94-99, Tallahassee coming in strong with 99, one point shy of overall perfection. The state capital received perfect scores on non-discrimination and LGBTQ-inclusive law enforcement.
Wilton Manors: 100?
We’re still trying to fully understand the math behind this one, but Wilton Manors, the ever-popular LGBTQ resort and retirememt town ten minutes outside of downtown Fort Lauderdale, scored a 94 on standard questions and 15 in bonus points. You do the math, but we’re still giving this town a 100, as the HRC MEI noted, for its inclusive feel and strong gay retirement community.
The third largest city in the state, Tampa, scored a 92 on standard questions and an additional 13 in bonus points for a total score of 100 (rounded down from 105). Tampa brought in high scores across the board and only faltered slightly in municipality employment. Still, the city is known for an extremely inclusive law enforcement and LGBTQ leadership, which comes as no surprise since Tampa current mayor is an out and proud lesbian and the former Chief of Police in Tampa.
This popular tourist destination is home to the largest pride celebration in Florida. Known as St Pete to locals, this Gulf Coast city has one of the hottest real estate markets in the state, in part, due to the growing LGBTQ community. St. Pete received the highest possible score for law enforcement, which has an LGBTQ liaison and reports hate crime statistics. They also received the highest possible score for leadership, as the city has several leaders who are open members of the LGBTQ community. Across the board, St Pete received strong scores (base score of 97 plus 14 bonus points) for a total score of 100 (rounded down from 114).
Orlando isn’t only known for family-friendly entertainment options, like Disney and Universal Studios. The tourist town is also known for its inclusive policies toward LGBTQ people. Orlando made headlines in 2016 when the Pulse Nightclub massacre left 49 LGBTQ people dead and dozens of others injured. Although forever scarred, the city rebounded stronger than ever before and has made LGBTQ inclusion a top priority. The City of Orlando achieved 98 on standard requirements plus 14 bonus points for an overall total score of 100 (rounded down from 112). Similar to Tampa, the city achieved high marks across the board with room for improvement in employment.