Orlando’s reputation as a LGBT-friendly city is not unwarranted — for the third year in a row, they’ve been awarded with the Municipal Equality Index‘s 100 percent rating.
That means they have an exceptional reputation for making their city safe, equal, and pleasant for all residents of the LGBT persuasion.
The Municipal Equality Index is put out by the Human Rights Campaign, and they looked at 506 cities for this year. Of those, 60 cities got a 100 percent rating.
On stage at City Hall, JoDee Winterhof with the HRC said the LGBT community is “confronted with many reminders” they still have a long way to go in terms of equality. Cities like Orlando, she said, make that easier.
“We’ve witnessed hateful bills get passed, we’ve heard hateful rhetoric, even on the campaign trail,” she said. “But amidst the challenges, Orlando has stood up for equality and made their city a more fair and equal place.”
Mayor Buddy Dyer said they were always working together to create the greatest city they could for everyone. He called the Pulse nightclub shooting Orlando’s darkest hour, as he’s said in the past — and then said the bright side of it was the community’s response.
“Orlando shined with love and compassion,” he said. “You can’t just throw together that kind of community we were if you’re not already that type of community.”
Some examples Dyer listed of the city’s commitment to diversity included the ACC moving its championship title game from North Carolina to Orlando in the wake of the anti-LGBT laws passed in North Carolina, the city enacting a domestic partner registry before gay marriage was legal, and the Orlando Police Department’s adoption of a transgender persons policy stating that transgender residents were to be treated the same as anyone else.
Commissioner Patty Sheehan closed out the event with her typically fiery speech in defense of her LGBT community. She said it was “no surprise” the shooter from Pulse had come from one of the cities rated the lowest in the MEI, Port St. Lucie.
She went on to condemn bigotry at the state legislative level, saying some of the young people who’d been in the Pulse nightclub the night of the shooting had gone home to cities with no discrimination laws and been fired from their jobs after it was revealed they were LGBT.
“We need statewide protection,” she said. “If you won’t do it, get out of the way and someone who will do their job will. We’ll make sure we get 100 percent on the MEI every year,” she said. “We are one Orlando. We are Orlando Strong.”