Victory In Gainesville
Welcome to another day in my life. This is a very trying week for me. We are helping host our first minority women's HIV conference this weekend. I have also received upsetting news about the condition of one of my "kids".
So I would like to concentrate on the positive in this blog entry. Yesterday, I heard about the recent vote in Gainesville on hate crime laws when voters rejected fear tactics and discrimination.
Dab the AIDS Bear Project joins with local leaders in Gainesville and fair minded people across the state and nation in celebrating today's decisive victory over discrimination and fear embodied in Gainesville Charter Amendment 1.
Voters rejected the amendment by a vote of 58% to 42%. If passed, Charter Amendment 1 would have repealed existing civil rights protections for Gainesville's gay and transgender community.
For over a year, backers of the amendment have waged a fear based campaign filled with outright lies and media campaigns that dehumanized gay and transgender people. Specifically, these extremists drew a target on the backs of transgender people with bigoted messages intended to instill fear in the hearts of Gainesville citizens.
Led by Equality Is Gainesville's Business, a coalition of local, state and national organizations worked together to stop discrimination from being legalized in Gainesville.
The sweeping language of the ballot initiative, imported to Florida by a far right conservative group in Michigan, would have also prohibited the City of Gainesville from ever providing nondiscrimination protections beyond those listed in the Florida Civil Rights Act.
"Supporters of Charter Amendment 1 waged a campaign that blatantly lied to voters about the protections Gainesville has provided transgender citizens." said Joe Saunders EQGB campaign manager. "By targeting transgender people, proponents of Charter Amendment 1 have proven the need for inclusive anti-discrimination laws. Voter's embraced Gainesville's anti-discrimination laws tonight when they rejected Amendment 1."
Saunders is also the field director for Equality Florida.
"This is a local victory but it's significance reaches across our state and our nation. Those pushing Amendment 1 are part of a national effort to repeal LGBT protection in communities across the country," said Nadine Smith, executive director for Equality Florida. "This victory sends a strong signal that we will not allow extremists to turn back the progress we have made to secure equality for everyone."
The local team waged a strong grassroots campaign reaching voters and unmasking the real human impact of the proposed amendment.
"Today Gainesville voters showed that they value the rights of all citizens," said EQGB Chair and Gainesville City Commissioner Craig Lowe. "They have rejected the politics of fear and instead chose to retain the values that make our city such a beautiful place. Today, our voters showed their true character by emphasizing that, in Gainesville, every person matters."
A broad array of organizations came out to publicly oppose Charter Amendment 1. These organizations include: the
Anti-Defamation League - Florida, the ACLU of Florida, Equality Florida, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Organizations United Together (O.U.T.), UM (University of Miami) for Equality, Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, Florida NOW, Gainesville Area NOW, Judy Levy NOW PAC, Alachua County Democratic Party, Alachua County Green Party, Alachua County/Gainesville League of Women Voters, Alachua County NAACP, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, Gainesville Area AIDS Project (GAAP), Gainesville Commission on the Status of Women, Human Rights Council of North Central Florida, Interweave, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, North Central Florida Central Labor Council, Pride Center of North Central Florida, Social Justice Council of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, Trinity Metropolitan Community Church, United Church of Gainesville Social Concerns Committee, University of Florida Students for Change, Students for a Democratic Society @ UF, Wild Iris Books and Wild Words Café, University of Florida Faculty Senate, University of Florida Presidential LGBT Concerns, and University of Florida Student Senate.
Score one for all Americans being treated as equal in the future. But until then, unfortunately we need hate crime laws for those wishing us hurt or worse, dead.
Wishing you health, hope and happiness.
big bear hug,