Last year, when Tampa scored higher than St. Petersburg in the Human Rights Campaign's annual measure of LGBT equality across the nation, St. Pete was more than a little peeved. City officials vowed that things would be different by the time the next MEI rolled around.
And boy, are they. Today, HRC announced that St. Pete's score in the Municipality Equality Index was, in essence, perfect — winning the top rating of 100 points, up from 66 in 2013, and outpacing Tampa, which came in close behind at 97.
It's not that surprising, considering all that's happened in St. Petersburg in the last year to improve the climate for LGBT citizens. Elections made a big difference, with Darden Rice and Amy Foster joining Steve Kornell as openly gay members of City Council, and Mayor Rick Kriseman heading up a new, more LGBT-friendly administration. The raising of a rainbow flag over City Hall during St. Pete Pride held more than just symbolic weight; in his mayoral proclamation, Kriseman listed a raft of positive developments for the gay community, including the appointment of new LGBT community liaison Robert Danielson and the upcoming opening of the LGBT Welcome Center in the Grand Central District.
HRC said that only two other Florida cities — Orlando and Wilton Manors — achieved a perfect score in this year's MEI, along with 35 other cities across the nation. The rights organization has been making its MEI assessments since 2012, and has seen the level of LGBT equality rise steadily during that period.
The full release follows: