Seven cities in South Florida received perfect scores on the 2021 Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index report including Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Wilton Manors, Oakland Park, Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, and Wellington.
“Cities across Florida continue to embrace equality and inclusion, and once again our MEI scores have taken a quantum leap higher. We take pride in the progress and momentum reflected in the 2021 scores,” said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida. “The U.S. Supreme Court's Bostock case and the Florida Commission on Human Relations' recognition of statewide non-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community gave scores around the state a huge boost, but our work continues.”
Cities receive points based on their laws, policies, benefits and services. Some of the areas scored include “Law Enforcement” and “Municipal Services,” and “Leadership on LGBTQ Equality.”
Last year only three cities in South Florida had perfect scores.
This is the tenth annual municipal equality list HRC has compiled. Across the U.S. more than 500 cities were scored with 110 earning perfect scores — up from 94 in 2020. This year also includes the highest average city score while only eight cities received a zero.
“Local governments must do their part to embed inclusion into the fabric of our communities,” Smith said. “The MEI provides a critical roadmap for how local governments can do more to ensure equity and equality under the law for LGBTQ residents and ultimately for the community as a whole."
Wilton Manors, known as South Florida’s “gayborhood,” came out on top for the eighth consecutive year.
Wilton Manors City Commissioner Paul Rolli previously said other cities have reached out to them over the years to ask how they continue to earn perfect scores.
“The City of Wilton Manors is proud to have received a perfect MEI score for 2021 — the 8th consecutive year! Wilton Manors makes a great effort to ensure that our local laws, policies, and services are inclusive and supportive of our LGBTQ+ community that lives and works here,” Rolli said. “I am so thankful that the Human Rights Campaign continues to recognize our leadership.”
Chris Caputo, who was elected to the city commission a year ago, added his thoughts as well.
“While we're incredibly proud of the fact that the City of Wilton Manors has once again achieved a perfect score on the HRC Municipal Index, we’re hard at work ensuring that our city is doing absolutely everything possible to support our LGBTQ+ residents and businesses,” Caputo said.
Fort Lauderdale tops the list for the third year in a row.
“I am very proud to serve on a Commission that represents such a diverse and welcoming community. Fort Lauderdale's continued perfect score is indicative of our inclusivity,” said City Commissioner Steve Glassman. “We should all be very proud of our progress.”
Three years ago Fort Lauderdale enacted a human rights ordinance that banned discrimination against the LGBT community in the area’s employment, housing, and public accommodation.
Meanwhile Hollywood rose from 83 to 100 on the index while this was Wellington’s first year on the list earning a perfect score as well.
The cities outside of South Florida to receive a 100 include Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Tallahassee.
All of the ranked cities in Florida either improved their scores over last year, or their scores stayed the same. Hialeah fell at the bottom of the list in South Florida with a score of 44, but even that was an improvement from its 2020 score of 40.
[Editor's Note: The print version of this story lists six cities instead of seven leaving out Miami Beach. The HRC report does not list Miami Beach this year but a spokesperson for the city has since sent SFGN a copy of their report and SFGN confirmed with HRC its accuracy. HRC added they will be updating the index at some point to include Miami Beach.]