Last night, a fairly conservative area of Florida took a huge step toward equality despite a great deal of far right sabre rattling. Kissimmee (it's near Orlando) is the latest Florida city to adopt domestic partnership protections. Below is the inside look from Equality Field Director Joe Saunders.
Despite reputation, Kissimmee adds Domestic Partnership Protections
What an amazing night!
I'm just leaving the Kissimmee City Commission meeting where moments ago commissioners voted 4 to 1 to extend dometic partnership benefits to LGBT city employees. Art Otero was the only "no" vote.
I am so proud of Kissimmee City Commissioner Cheryl Grieb, who led this effort. Mallory Wells, our Public Policy Director and I have worked side-by-side with Commissioner Grieb for months and she has never backed down from pursuing what is right. Even when anti-gay forces threatened to protest, Commissioner Grieb wouldn't be bullied. With her guidance and leadership we began the slow and tedious task of drumming up support on the commission and in the community.
Equality Florida provided research, ordinance language drafts and reached out to Kissimmee residents for support and the community stepped up with emails and phone calls like never before.
Thanks to everyone who wrote or called and to everyone who has supported our work allowing our community to rack up victories large and small. For me this victory is particularly sweet.
My partner Donald was born and raised in rural Osceola County and has been a part of the fabric of Kissimmee for much of his professional life. His personal stories and the political history of Kissimmee let me know right away this would be a tough fight. But it is in the unlikely places that winning can mean so much more.
Tonight, we celebrate Commissioner Cheryl Grieb as a champion. Tonight, she did what many thought was impossible. Kissimmee has now set a very high bar for community organizers and elected officials across the state. If you've ever thought, "We can never do that here," Kissimmee is here to say - Yes you can!
State Field Director
If you want to send a thank you to the commission, here's a convenient link: