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LGBTQ community leaders denounce St. Pete Mayoral candidate Rick Baker

Baker is running for Mayor after serving 2001-2010
Posted at 6:21 PM, May 10, 2017

"The Baker Administration was arguably the most un-welcoming and repressive in our city's history," announced Susan McGrath from the steps of St. Pete's City Hall on Wednesday, just hours after Rick Baker announced his campaign to get his old job back as St. Pete's Mayor.

McGrath is among members of the LGBT community hoping to prevent that, saying the gay community, in general, never felt welcomed by the Baker administration.

Her examples:

  • She says Baker never joined in on the Gay Pride Parade
  • Baker never signed a proclamation supporting the LGBT community
  • She says Baker voiced opposition to the Pride Parade's "agenda"

Baker's opponent, Mayor Rick Kriseman, has taken a different route. He created an official city "liaison" to the gay community, encouraged the creation of partner registries before same sex marriage was legalized in Florida, and he even officiated a wedding between two men right in the lobby of City Hall when it was legalized.

In 2014, Rick Kriseman became the first St. Pete mayor to take part in the city's Pride Parade.

Baker tells ABC Action News that he does support the LGBT community, despite this perception.

"I want the LGBTQ community to know I stand with and for them, and that while I may not have the support of every member of that community, I support them," Baker tells ABC Action News.

"I want residents to know St. Petersburg is better and stronger today because of our LGBTQ community, and as Mayor I will seek and protect equality for all. I’m proud of the fact that my administration included members of the LGBT community in every level of government up-to and including the cabinet level," Baker added in a statement.