Florida has provided some fierce gay
debates and is notorious for its colorful anti-gay personalities –
think Anita Bryant and Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle. But a tepid
gay marriage debate taking place in the Sunshine State suggests the
temperature of the gay culture war there has chilled a bit.
For example, Governor Charlie Crist,
who has voiced support for banning gay marriage, announced he would
not be campaigning for Amendment 2, the Florida constitutional
amendment that seeks to ban gay marriage.
“I'll support it, I'll vote for it,
move on,” the governor told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
“It's not top-tier for me, put it that way.” And when asked if
he'll campaign for the issue, he said, “I don't think so.”
Homophobic remarks by Ft. Lauderdale
mayor Jim Naugle inspired openly gay businessman Earl Rynerson to run
for the job. Naugle, who has held the office since 1991, cannot run
again due to term limits.
While Naugle is a lame duck mayor, his
infamous anti-gay rhetoric has not been on display since early
summer, when he remarked that a gay mayoral candidate could win if he
was a “responsible homosexual.” Last year, the Venice of America
mayor found himself in hot water when he said, “I use the word
homosexual. Most of them aren't gay; they're unhappy.”
Rynerson told us that he has sensed a
drop in the tone of the gay debate, but added, “I think it's more a
'don't discriminate against any particular group of people'
[attitude] as opposed to being pro-gay.”
Palm Beach County Human Rights Council
President Rand Hoch believes it's too early to tell if Floridians
are becoming more inclusive of gays and lesbians.
“Over the past several months, more
and more Floridians have taken a 'live and let live' attitude on GLBT
[gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] issues,” he said. “There
is decreased support among the voters for the so-called gay marriage
Amendment 2 not only bans gay marriage
in the State; if passed it would make civil unions, or possibly even
domestic partnerships, illegal.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll
showed a three point drop in voters supporting the gay marriage ban
since June. The poll showed the amendment failing, with only 55
percent of voters supporting it – short of the 60 percent needed
On another front, Wednesday a Florida
circuit court judge ruled the State's 31-year-old prohibition against
adoption by gay people unconstitutional. While the ruling has little
affect on the law, it is yet another sign that Florida's anti-gay
zealots are being subdued.
Still, neither Rynerson nor Hoch were
preparing to celebrate; both believe the true test of a new political
inclusion for gays and lesbians in Florida will come in November when
voters decide on banning gay unions.