Once again, the radical right has decided to grace
the Sunshine State with its forward thinking and
compassionate brand of legislating.  This amendment
– imported in cut and paste fashion from Ann Arbor,
Michigan – will preempt the will of the citizens of
Gainesville.  And if it works in Gainesville, expect to
see it popping up in other Florida cities soon.

A group calling itself Citizens for Good Public Policy
(CGPP) is behind the amendment
(www.citizensforgoodpublicpolicy.org).   
Their website is chock full of links to newspaper stories
of restroom sexual assaults, which is their main
argument to repeal the human rights protections.  
In fact, their website is all about public restrooms,
and who uses them.  It’s creepily obsessive.

Gainesville’s TV viewers have been treated to disingenuous ads showing a man
following a little girl into a public restroom, with the implication of assault.  These
emotional tactics have nothing to do with the reality of the amendment or the facts of
sexual assaults.  But as we know, it’s easier to push buttons – especially involving
children – than to openly discuss the intent of the initiative.

CGPP claims it wants to “ensure fair and equitable treatment for everyone.”  But that
doesn't jibe with the language of the amendment and the repeal of rights for
Gainesville's GLBT citizens.  It’s the same tactic we saw last year with Amendment 2,
whose sponsors talked about children needing “a mom and a dad” even though
children, moms or dads had nothing to do with the real impact of Amendment 2.
www.ambiente.us  MARCH | MARZO 2009

DATELINE GAINESVILLE | THE LATEST BATTLE IN THE ANTI-
GLBT CULTURE WAR
By Stephen Gaskill


The fine folks who imported Amendment 2 to Florida have another gift for us.  This one
is targeted at the City of Gainesville, and is even more of an overreach on individual
rights than the “Marriage Protection Amendment” was.

Gainesville’s Charter Amendment 1 repeals the city’s human rights protections that
ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, making it legal to
fire a worker because he’s gay, refuse to rent an apartment to a lesbian couple, or
decline to serve a diner in a restaurant because she’s transgendered.

That turnaround in public policy is appalling enough, but then this amendment goes
even further: it prohibits Gainesville from granting any legal protections that the State of
Florida has not enacted.  In effect, this broadly written amendment would preclude
Gainesville from giving preference to veterans, or keep someone in other protected
groups such as race or religion from being fired by some small businesses.
.
.
The campaign fighting Charter Amendment 1 is Equality is Gainesville’s Business
(www.EqualityGainesville.com). It’s a perfect mix of left and right, gay and straight, and
business and advocacy groups.  It’s not often that the local Chamber of Commerce, the
NAACP, and the University of Florida Faculty Senate, among many others, join with
ACLU of Florida, HRC, NGLTF and Lambda Legal to fight a ballot initiative.  

The Gainesville Sun, in its editorial opposing Amendment 1, was clear on the deceptive
campaign run by supporters:  “Although supporters have insisted that this initiative is
intended simply to keep men out of women's rest rooms, a plain reading of the wording
of Amendment 1 makes it clear that it would do far more.  It would ban Gainesville from
adopting or enforcing anti-discrimination policies beyond those specifically authorized
by the Florida Civil Right Act. Gainesville would no longer be able to prohibit housing,
credit, public accommodation or other forms of discrimination against gays, lesbians,
transgenders or others who cannot specifically claim protected status under state anti-
discrimination laws…City commissioners have already promised to modify anti-
discrimination ordinances to eliminate concerns from the business community about
having to modify rest rooms and changing facilities. That promise convinced the
Chamber to oppose Amendment 1.”
The Gainesville City Commission is to be commended for passing the human rights
ordinance guaranteeing equality for all its citizens, and for agreeing to modify – yet not
repeal – provisions that cause concern.  It’s unfortunate that the mis-named Citizens for
Good Public Policy wants to pursue its own hidden agenda at the expense of
Gainesville’s residents.  Voters who go to the polls on March 24 should know that they’
re being used as pawns in the latest discrimination chess game to hit Florida.  If CGPP
wins, we all lose.

CLICK HERE for more Stephen Gaskill.
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