A report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality in America’s cities by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, rated 291 cities across the nation, including 15 cities in Florida. The 2013 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) is the second edition of the only nationwide rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law.
This year’s index finds that cities across the country, including in Florida, continued to prove that municipalities will act to support equality for LGBT people, even where states and the federal government have failed to do so. The MEI was issued in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute. The average score for cities in Florida is 58 out of 100 points, which falls above the national average.
Miami Beach scored a perfect 100, the only city in the state to do so. Tampa scored 89 points, Oakland Park scored 85, Tallahassee scored 84, Wilton Manors scored 82, Orlando scored 79, Fort Lauderdale scored 77, Miami scored 67, St. Petersburg scored 66, Hialeah scored 58, Miami Shores scored 56, Hollywood scored 54, Pembroke Pines scored 43, Jacksonville scored 25, and Cape Coral scored 10. Port Saint Lucie was the only Florida city that held the dubious distinction of scoring 0 on the MEI.
Key findings from the MEI create a snapshot of LGBT equality in 291 municipalities of varying sizes drawn from every state in the nation – these include the 50 state capitals, the 150 most populous cities in the country, the three largest cities in every state, the city home to each state’s largest public university, and the 25 large, 25 mid-size, and 25 small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples. Twenty-five cities earned a perfect 100-point score and serve as shining examples of LGBT inclusivity, with excellent policies ranging from non-discrimination laws, equal employee benefits, and cutting-edge city services.
2013 MEI at a glance:
- Cities across the country achieved excellent scores, demonstrating that cities have a commitment to LGBT equality that is unbridled by regionalism and not confined to parts of the country many people assume are most LGBT friendly;
- 25 cities received perfect scores (100 points) in 2013; 11 did in 2012;
- Of cities that scored 100, 8 cities came from states without comprehensive relationship recognition and without statewide non-discrimination laws (compared to two such cities in 2012);
- 31 million people live in cities that cover trans people at the city level alone;
- In 2012 we rated 137 cities with a total population of 55,853,651; in 2013 we rated 291 cities with a population total of 77,851,822;
- 10% of cities scored over 96 points, 25% scored over 78 points. The average score was 57 points, half of cities scored over 60 points. 25% of cities scored 35 points or fewer; and 3.5% of cities scored 10 points or fewer.
- Cities tended to have higher scores where the city was selected for having a high proportion of same-sex couples, and the presence of openly LGBT city officials and LGBT police liaisons tended to be correlated with higher scores.
“Equality isn’t just for the coasts anymore,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This groundbreaking report shows that cities and towns across the country, from Vicco, Kentucky to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, are leading the charge for basic fairness for LGBT people.”
“Change is possible everywhere, and the Municipal Equality Index showcases the monumental progress we’ve made. In cities and towns across America, advocates are telling their stories, organizing their friends, and changing the hearts and minds of our policymakers and neighbors,” said Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of Equality Federation. “We’re winning equality where it matters most — in the communities we call home.”
The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories:
- Non-discrimination laws;
- Relationship recognition;
- Municipality’s employment and contracting policies;
- Inclusiveness of city services;
- Law enforcement; and
- Municipal leadership on matters of equality.
The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city and a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.