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Cape Coral scores low in LGBT friendliness

Posted at 7:57 AM, Oct 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-25 07:57:07-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- Cape Coral has been ranked one of the lowest-scoring cities in Florida for LGBT friendliness.

The Cape scored a 25 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index, which evaluates 506 cities nationwide on how inclusive they are to LGBT people in their communities.

Dr. Abbe Forman told Fox 4 the score is better than previous years. "Twenty-five is an improvement, but still not good," she said.

Despite the low score, she said she's never been discriminated against during her four years living in Cape Coral. "I've met cit council, other people in the city, police, firemen, never had a problem with anybody," said Forman. "That doesn't mean the possibility doesn't exist."

The possibility exists because Cape Coral does not have the same protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people other big cities have. This includes things like housing and employment equality. "There are homeowners associations in Cape Coral that ban same-sex couples from living together. You can be married but you can't live together," Forman said.

Arlene Goldberg, who helps put together the Southwest Florida Pride Festival every year, said all citites in Lee County have this problem, not just Cape Coral. She suggested a bigger-scale solution, mandating protections for the LGBT community at a state level. "We need it state-wide for counties such as our that are so conservative."

Cape Coral City Council members are already working on the problem. Councilwoman Jessica Cosden sent the following statement:

"I have two ordinances drafted and ready to present to Council. One pertains to LGBTQ city employees; the other is a citywide ban on discrimination in housing or lending situations.  I plan to bring them both forward in 2017."