The Human Rights Campaign has given Wilton Manors a score of 80 out a possible 100 on its MEI [Municipal Equality Index] Scorecard. It’s a ranking commissioners are not very happy about.
“We’re talking about image,” said Commissioner Tom Green, who called the score “ridiculous” and something the city needs to respond to. “They’re not doing it objectively is part of the criticism,” said Mayor Gary Resnick.
In 2013, Wilton Manors got a score of 82 on the MEI. Some of the other rankings that year were: Tucson, 90; Tallahassee, 84; Oakland Park, 85; Las Vegas, 91; Fort Worth, 91; Austin, 100; Salt Lake City, 87. The scores for 2014 have not been officially released yet but the Gazette was able to obtain a copy.
“[HRC stated] we have no gay liaison to the mayor. Why do we need that?” asked Green. Mayor Gary Resnick is gay. The only heterosexual members of the five-person commission are commissioners Ted Galatis and Scott Newton. The city also lost points for not having a human rights commission. The city’s score included 5 bonus points out a possible 20.
“To be honest, I think this is a waste of staff time [to respond to this],” Resnick said. After that, Green volunteered to head-up the city’s response to the survey. “I brought this topic up a year ago and it was batted-down,” he said.
The survey also stated “City leadership has engaged somewhat positively in matters of equality but has not recently undertaken efforts to change law or policy to be more inclusive.”
The latest change to city policy came in September of 2013 when commissioners approved an ordinance that requires firms doing business with the city to provide the partners of their LGBT employees with the same healthcare benefits as partners of their heterosexual employees. The city scored a 0 on the city contractor benefits ordinance. The city already has non-discrimination and equal benefits regulations in its code of ordinances.
In the category of “Leadership’s Public Position on Equality” the city got a possible 3 out of 5. It’s unknown why only a 3 was given – HRC did not return calls for an interview –but city officials here often make public statements in support of equality. Most recently, the city issued statements supporting the recent court rulings against the state’s ban on gay marriage.
“I know I speak for our entire city when I say we applaud the ruling by Monroe County CircuitJudge Luis Garcia declaring the ban on marriage equality in Florida unconstitutional,” said Resnick in the press release.
In June, Resnick appeared with Robert Boo, CEO of The Pride Center at Equality Park, on CBS 4 to promote the city’s annual Stonewall parade and festival, an event that commemorates the Stonewall Riots of 1969. “If you look at Wilton Manors, we not only accept our diversity but it actually makes us a stronger community. We’re one of the most desirable communities in the country because we’re not just accepting but we embrace our diversity,” said Resnick during the interview.