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 Orlando.

OUT says it will work directly with national gay and lesbian rights groups to protect LGBT Floridians.