TAMPA — Tampa ranks at the top of Florida cities for its support of gay and lesbian people, according to report issued this week by the Human Rights Campaign, a group that promotes gay rights.
Tampa scored 89 of a possible 100 points on the HRC’s Municipal Equality Index, which looked at 291 selected cities across the United States.
Twenty-five cities, including Atlanta, St. Louis and Missoula, Mont., got perfect scores. The cities that were rated included the 50 state capitals, the 150 largest cities in the country, the three largest cities in each state, and the 75 cities with high proportions of same sex couples.
Tampa jumped from 66 points in last year’s survey.
In many cases, cities are going farther than their own states when it comes to recognizing and protecting gay, lesbian and transgender citizens, the report said. Those cities are finding that doing so can be a way to attract economic development.
“Cities used to think they could generate jobs and economic growth by luring companies with huge tax abatements and other subsidies,” Richard Florida, professor of business and creativity at the University of Toronto, wrote in the HRC report. “But today, more and more we know that enduring growth for cities and for nations comes from an open, diverse, tolerant social environment that is appealing to a diverse range of creative and talented people.”
Tampa got points for having non-discrimination policies in employment, housing and public accommodations. It also scored high on the relationship between the city, its police force and the gay community. The city got dinged for lacking protections for transgender residents and for not requiring contractors to offer LGBT protections.
Last year, Tampa City Council created a domestic partnership registry offering unmarried couples some of the protections — hospital visitation, access to shared children and end-of-life decisions, among other things — that married couples take for granted. The registry covers straight and gay couples, but most of the couples that have signed on are same-sex.
“Tampa has a long-standing tradition of inclusiveness,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in a written statement. “Diversity is a pre-requisite for creativity and innovation, and by extension our economic competitiveness. It is as simple as they say, ‘equality means business.’ ”