Florida fails to land any city in top 20 most LGBT-friendly list


To hear Bill O'Reilly describe it, Seattle has now transcended San Francisco (thanks to legalizing pot) as the most liberal enclave in America. Whether the Fox News host's take is accurate or not, the Emerald City has now come out ahead of the city by the bay in another category — it surpassed San Fran to reach the #1 spot on a list of the top 20 LGBT-friendly cities in America, according to the financial website NerdWallet. 

And despite the advances made by Tampa and St. Petersburg recently, neither they nor any other Florida town cracks the top 20 list (though both cities' LGBT communities continue to make strides — see below).

NerdWallet considered the following factors in its analysis:

1. Presence of gay community: Measurement included the percentage of households with same-sex partners in each city.

2. LGBT-friendly laws and opportunities: NW incorporated the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) 2013 Municipal Equality Index, which measures each city’s non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, employment practices, city services, law enforcement and municipality leadership.

3. LGBT safety and tolerance: To proxy for safety and tolerance for the LGBT population, the survey looked at the number of sexual orientation-related hate crimes per 100,000 residents in each city.

Trailing Seattle and San Francisco at #3 is Atlanta, with Oakland, Long Beach, Minneapolis, Austin, Jersey City, New Jersey, St. Paul, and Chicago rounding out the top ten. You can go here to find cities 11-20.

Meanwhile, last Thursday an event in Tampa celebrating the link between business success and LGBT-friendliness was hosted by the Equality Florida Institute, the City of Tampa and Florida Blue. Last year Tampa was named by the Human Rights Campaign as the number one Florida city on that organization's Municipal Equality Index.

But officials with St. Pete aren't taking that lying down. Mayor Rick Kriseman recently said he intends  to ask two existing employees to serve as LGBT liaisons, one in the city’s police department, the other in City Hall, in order to raise the city's rating with HRC.

“When businesses are looking to relocate, especially LGBT individuals, they’re looking at that index, especially when we’re behind Tampa,” Kevin King, Kriseman’s chief of staff, told TBO.com's Chris O'Donnell last month.  The HRC's 2013 index was issued, by the way, before the St. Pete election that brought the total of openly gay city councilpersons in the city to three (which is three more than sit on Tampa's city council).

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