Miami Beach earned a perfect score — among the highest in Florida — for its LGBT inclusiveness, according to a 2016 report released by the nation’s largest gay-rights group.
“The city is the progressive leader in the state,” Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said. “We are the model for progressive causes including protecting the environment, protecting LGBT rights and ensuring a fair working wage for workers in our city.”
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) this week released its annual Municipal Equality Index. Miami Beach earned a 96 standard score, four points fewer than last year, plus 14 bonus points for having openly LGBTQ officials and services for LGBTQ youth, trans and elderly. Despite the Beach having a total of 110 points, no city can earn an official score higher than 100, according to HRC.
Miami Beach is challenging the lost four points and hopes to score a full 114, First Assistant City Attorney Rob Rosenwald said Tuesday.
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The four points were lost because Miami Beach does not explicitly state “LGBT” in its city contractor nondiscrimination ordinance, according to the report.
“HRC docks points for not banning discrimination by contractors in our cities,” Rosenwald said. “However, we always insert contract language prohibiting [LGBT] discrimination.”
For the fifth year in a row, Miami Beach self-submitted to HRC, which uses a formula that overlooks Florida’s top-ranked municipality. Two other cities, West Palm Beach and Port Townsend, Washington, also self-reported, according to the HRC report.
Dale Stine, a freelance photographer for the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, helped Miami Beach’s LGBT Advisory Committee prepare for the report. He said that Miami Beach earning a perfect score is important to the committee because it wants to create an inclusive environment here.
“We just need to remain positive and keep putting an image of who we are out there,” he said. “We are all people.”
Other Florida cities earning at least 100 points: St. Petersburg (100), Orlando (110), Wilton Manors (101) and West Palm Beach (106).
The lowest Florida scores: Cape Coral (25) and Port Saint Lucie (30).
In the past three MEI reports, Miami Shores has increased its score from 61 points in 2014, to 85 in 2015, and 91 points this year.
Miami Shores resident and LGBT activist Dennis Leyva attributes the increase to community involvement and education.
“The goal is to continue to work,” he said, “to raise the score and get the best score possible and that's done through community activism.”