Pam Spaulding

Epic battle ahead over Florida marriage amendment

Filed By Pam Spaulding | July 19, 2007 8:59 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Florida, Florida Red and Blue, Florida4Marriage, Fort Lauderdale, Jim Naugle, marriage, public toilets

While Ft. Lauderdale mayor Jim Naugle is worrying about sex in public beach potties, Equality Florida and other pro-LGBT forces are gearing up for battle over a proposed marriage amendment in the Sunshine State. Anti-gay organizations are working hard to raise funds, and they will certainly have a boatload of money to fear-bait and push their bigoted message. It's also likely that enough signatures are going to be gathered by the fundies to place a measure on November 2008 presidential ballot.

A group called Florida Red and Blue is prepared to fight the amendment with $1 million the till. (Sun-Sentinel):

"This is about all Floridians, not just some Floridians," said Jon Kislak, a North Miami financier who is chairman of Florida Red and Blue, Inc.

The organization, which leaders say is attracting both Democrats and Republicans, will report contributions from 375 donors this week -- a quarterly deadline for state campaign reports. One-third are self-identified Republicans, leaders said, including Palm Beach philanthropist Don Burns, who put up a $250,000 challenge grant matched by other donors.

...Florida4Marriage.org, which is pushing it, will finish collecting the 611,009 signatures needed to get on the ballot within 30 days, said chairman John Stemberger, an Orlando lawyer. "This will inevitably be the most robust, well-funded marriage amendment in the history of these ballot initiatives across the country," Stemberger said.

Florida4Marriage has raised $438,613, campaign finance records show. But most of the money has been spent on the petition drive.

Don't worry, the Florida GOP has chipped in to help enshrine bigotry in its state constitution. Rumored-to-be-gay governor Charlie Crist said the party won't spend any more on the effort but doesn't plan to campaign against the measure.

If Florida passes an amendment, that will leave North Carolina as the only state in the Southeast that has not placed (and approved) a marriage equality ban on the ballot.

Help out the good folks at Equality Florida.

***

But let's go back to the $250K potty mayor...

As Jim Naugle, calls for the installation of $250K robojohns to halt imaginary beach potty sex, Unite Fort Lauderdale has taken out ads as part of its "Flush Naugle" campaign, calling for the mayor to resign.

Today I heard from Anthony Niedwiecki, the law professor in Florida who made headlines when he and his partner Waymon Hudson were subjected to Leviticus 20:13 being broadcast of the Ft. Lauderdale airport PA system (the man who did it was discovered and lost his job). Anthony's and Waymon's group, Fight OUT Loud, is also taking part in the Flush Naugle Campaign and rally.

I was sent a copy of the remarks delivered by Waymon at Tuesday's press conference about Naugle's bigotry. Here is an excerpt:

My name is Waymon Hudson and I'm here speaking as a representative for a large, diverse group of concerned citizens who are launching a strong response to counter Mayor Naugle's long string of bigoted, irresponsible, demeaning, and embarrassing comments.  We have come together under the heading "Unite Fort Lauderdale" from all different segments of the community to reclaim the first value listed in Fort Lauderdale's Vision Statement- "Respect for the dignity of our citizens and co-workers and for the diversity of all groups." This vision statement was adopted by the city commission but has sadly been ignored by Mayor Naugle.

The mayor's recent comments about the gay community have shown exactly how out of touch he is with the entire city.  He has chosen to use ignorant stereotypes to excuse an absurd plan to spend $250,000 on a robotic toilet to combat a problem that does not exist.  He has chosen to do this at a time when the city is facing drastic cuts in the budget.  His comments could also cost the city millions in lost tourist revenue.  With over one million visitors per year, in which gay tourism brings in over a billion dollars in revenue, the mayor's bigoted comments have chipped away at our city's image of a modern, cosmopolitan, diverse tourist destination.

But his comments reach much further back than just this recent attack.  Mayor Naugle's comments over the years have had a profoundly negative impact on the spirit of our community and reputation of our city.  A brief review of some of the mayor's more embarrassing and extreme comments demonstrate an on-going lack of respect for our city and no concern for the diversity of ALL groups.  At a time when the median income is just over $46,000 dollars, but the median cost of a home is well over $350,000 dollars, he has insulted our hard working citizens by advising they "drink less beer and work more hours" so they can afford a home.  When he said that an "environmental alternative" to the electric chair was "a strong rope and a stiff tree", he unnecessarily referenced an incredibly shameful practice.  With crime on the rise in our community, he has stated, "I do support some form of gun control: use two hands." His manipulation and distortion of the facts regarding this and other issues to further his personal agenda continues to be one of his "best practices".  Instead of discussing and solving important issues in our community, he just dismisses them with ignorant and flippant comments.

Mayor Naugle's words have insulted many fair-minded members of our city.  He is hurting the reputation of Fort Lauderdale and the entire region.  The citizens of South Florida have come together to say loud and clear, "Mayor Naugle does not speak for me."  We ask the mayor to stop tarnishing the reputation of Fort Lauderdale with his ignorance and bigotry and resign.  We seek to restore the dignity and honor of the office of the mayor.  Whether he resigns or not, we as a community are here to say "no more" and to reclaim the respect and dignity of our citizens and the reputation of Fort Lauderdale.

To do this, we are kicking off a week-long series of events to flush mayor Naugle's bigotry away, which culminates with a rally at City Hall on Tuesday July 24th beginning at 4pm, with speakers and our protest beginning at 5pm.  Unite Fort Lauderdale is organizing this rally to inform the mayor that exclusionary, marginalizing language against any of our citizens is not going to be tolerated. We are asking all citizens of Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding communities to come out and unite against bigotry, hate, and ignorance. 

Also:

* The 'Flush Naugle' campaign escalates
* Turning a negative experience into positive action


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The battle over an anti-marriage amendment in Florida is one of two epic battles that our community may face in 2008. The other being California if the homo-haters get an amendment on the battle. Both of these fights will have huge ramifications for LGBT equality, not just our fight for marriage rights.

We have only manage to defeat one anti-marriage amendment in a couple of dozen fights. I am hopeful that we can take the lessons that we learned in Arizona where we won and the multiple battles that we have lost.