Sure, all those coffeehouses, Gay Marts, and laser hair-removal clinics may make Fort Lauderdale or Wilton Manors look like a mecca for aging queer snowbirds. And Lake Worth was voted most gay-friendly city of its size years ago. But this handy scorecard from eQualityGiving.com tells the real story: It totally sucks to be gay in Florida.
EQuality has evaluated all 50 states according to six criteria: hate crimes, nondiscrimination, marriage, gender (freedom to choose your own gender), youth (statutes protecting against bullying due to sexual orientation or gender identification), and parenting. Not surprisingly, no state achieves a perfect, full-equality score of six.
But some states come close: the cool kids -- California, Iowa, New Jersey, and Vermont -- get high fives. Meanwhile, Florida, like some sniveling, unwashed cousin, has to hang out with a bunch of losers: We score a miserable 1.5, ranking us as the one of the five worst states in the union. Only Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Idaho rank as low.
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Although there are scattershot city and county laws that attempt to address domestic partnership and bullying (Palm Beach County School District has adopted antibullying policies, for instance**) the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council notes that there is still no statewide law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Florida Constitution prohibits gay marriage. And we're the only state in the union that forbids gays from adopting children.
This week, the Lake Worth City Commission, under the urging of Commissioner Cara Jennings, unanimously passed a resolution calling for the state Legislature to repeal Section 63.042 of Florida Statutes, which provides that "No person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual."
Last year, West Palm Beach Congresswoman Mary Brandenburg and Sunrise Sen. Nan Rich sponsored bills (HB 3, SB 102) to repeal the ban on gay adoption. The bills were reintroduced last week.
**UPDATE: According to Ted Howard, Executive Director of Florida Together Federation, 14 School Boards in the state have bullying policies that specifically protect for both sexual orientation and gender identity. Palm Beach and Broward are included in that number.