City of Orlando Obtains Highest Score on the 2014 Municipal Equality Index (MEI)
ORLANDO, Fla., (November 12, 2014) – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the City of Orlando are proud to announce the City has obtained the highest score of 100 on the 2014 Municipal Equality Index (MEI), a nationwide evaluation of 353 cities on how inclusive the city’s laws and policies are for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Orlando is one of the few major cities in the country to obtain the top score of the MEI.
“This perfect score demonstrates the progress our community has made and validates our commitment to have an inclusive government that promotes diversity throughout the establishment of policies and procedures that benefit all sectors of society, including the LGBT community,” said Mayor Buddy Dyer. “I am proud of this accomplishment as we continue attracting talented people from different backgrounds to strengthen our economy."
The MEI is conducted by the Equality Federation Institute and Human Rights Campaign Foundation and examines 353 cities from every state including 50 state capitals, the 150 largest cities in the United States, the three largest cities or municipalities in each state, the city home to the state’s largest public university and 75 cities and municipalities that have high percentage of populations of same-sex couples. The MEI team evaluates cities on the following criteria: Non-Discrimination Laws, Relationship Recognition, Municipality as Employer, Services and Programs and Relationship with LGBT Community.
"I am delighted that the City of Orlando is so committed to equality. This year’s index is a reflection of that commitment,” said District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan.
Under the Mayor’s leadership, the City of Orlando focused its efforts on supporting our local LGBT community, including, but not limited, to:
Same-sex Domestic Partnership benefits for City workers: Since 2009, the City offers domestic partner health benefits, legal dependent benefits and equivalent family leave.
Domestic Partnership Registry: Approved by the Orlando City Council in December 2011, the ordinance created the City’s first-ever Domestic Partnership Registry. Since then, 13 other Florida jurisdictions have used the City of Orlando’s registry as a model. Currently, 1,321 couples have registered on the registry.
Support of marriage equality in court briefs: In June 2014, the Mayor and City Council authorized the filing of amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs in support of marriage equality in several Florida cases trying to overturn the Florida same-sex marriage ban.
Gender Identity added to Anti-discrimination Chapter 57: This summer, Chapter 57 Review Board, unanimously recommended to our City Council that gender identity be added as a protected class. City Council unanimously approved an ordinance adding gender identity on August 11, 2014.
Gender Identity added to City employment policies: The City recently added gender identity to its Recruitment & Employment and Harassment policies and procedures.
Non-discrimination ordinance added to Anti discrimination Chapter 57: As referenced above, the City of Orlando has had a non-discrimination ordinance and related City board since 1973 charged with fostering equality in Orlando and it continues to be active in promoting the City’s recent equality initiatives.
Funds for the homeless & HIV/AIDS: Through our City of Orlando Housing Department, Orlando provides funding through its Housing Opportunities for People with Aids grants for both homeless and elderly LGBT people as well as specific supportive programs for people living with HIV/AIDS.
New LGBT liaisons appointments: The City has also established a formal liaison positions at the Mayor’s office and Orlando Police Department (OPD). Mayor Dyer designated Luis M. Martinez, Director of Multicultural Affairs, as his Liaison for the LGBT community. Moreover, Lt. James Young has been appointed by Chief Mina in this new OPD role.