Voters of Gainesville, Florida will
decide the fate of the city's decade-old gay protections ordinance
Gay rights opponents proposed
eliminating the city's protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender people in January 2008 when city leaders added “gender
identity” to the list of classes protected under the law in the
areas of housing, employment and public accommodation.
Members of the Citizens for Good Public
Policy argue that the gender clause allows men to enter women's
restrooms, endangering women and children.
“To us public safety is the highest
public policy priority and the city left us no option but to do it
this way,” Mark Minck, the chair of Citizens for Good Public
Policy, the group behind the initiative, told The Gainesville Sun.
A similar argument is being echoed
throughout the U.S. as municipalities and states look to protect
“This is a bill that begins to
confuse the gender differences between men and women to the point of
trying to allow men to use women's restrooms, and, of course, that
means sexual predators going after young children,” Tom Minnery,
senior vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family Action,
said in a radio message urging North Dakota voters to oppose a
Both sides in the Gainesville fight
have mounted heated campaigns. Citizens for Good Public Policy says
is has collected more than $40,000 to repeal the anti-discrimination
“The honest story about this is that
it is all rooted in bigotry, prejudice and animus towards our gay and
lesbian community in the state of Florida,” Howard Simon, the
executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida,
told the paper. “If this ordinance were repealed, it would be
perfectly legal in Gainesville to fire someone from a job, to kick
someone out of rental housing, to deny someone service simply because
the owner does not like the idea that someone is gay.”
A bill before the Florida Legislature
would offer similar protections as the Gainesville ordinance, but
activists say passage remains iffy.
Today's vote is expected to be close.