Gay groups in Florida are rethinking
their approach to gay and lesbian rights after suffering a stinging
defeat on Election Day.
Amendment 2 is the constitutional
amendment approved by voters on November 4 that restricts marriage to
heterosexual couples and the impetus for the new direction.
Leaders in Florida have created a new
statewide gay rights group formed from several local lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender and allied organizations called Organizations
United Together (OUT).
“OUT's mission is to connect and
empower local organizations to share resources, skills and
information, forging statewide strength in order to achieve equality
and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Floridians,”
OUT spokeswoman Karen Doering said.
OUT aims to network local organizations
who will remain independent. The groups say the move will assist in
cooperation on statewide projects.
“For several years, local LGBT
organizations have been working together informally on common issues
such as human rights ordinances and domestic partner benefits,”
explained C.J. Ortuno, Executive Director of SAVE Dade, one of the
first groups to join. “OUT will provide a network to continue this
work and unite on important statewide projects, such as passing a
statewide anti-discrimination law, repealing the ban on gay adoption,
and defeating the discriminatory charter amendment to be considered
by Gainesville voters on March 24th.”
The gay groups cite the critical need
to come together now after passage of Amendment 2.
“After the passage of Amendment 2,
the leaders of several local LGBT organizations around the state
acknowledged the need for better communication and cooperation,”
Rand Hoch, president of Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, said
in a statement. “Fostering strong local organizations will
ultimately help us achieve success on statewide issues.”
Several gay groups have already joined
the new federation, including Sarasota Equality Project, SAVE Dade
and the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council. Leaders hope to sign
on additional local gay rights groups at a January 24 meeting in
OUT says it will work directly with
national gay and lesbian rights groups to protect LGBT Floridians.