People For The American Way Condemns Politics of Hate, Division of Miami-Dade Anti-Gay Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 16, 1999

Contact: Nathan Richter or Tracy Duckett at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

It’s now official that conservative groups will launch a signature petition drive seeking to repeal Miami-Dade County’s human rights ordinance and People For the American Way has pledged to continue the fight against the anti-gay initiative with the SAVE Dade coalition. Year-long speculation that the religious right would attempt to overturn anti-discrimination protections for lesbians and gay men ended when the Miami-Dade County Attorney recently informed the Florida Family Association of Tampa that their draft language for an initiative petition was in proper legal form.

“This initiative will be rejected by the fair-minded voters of Miami-Dade. It is wrong for people to come into Miami-Dade from other parts of the state to stir up hate and division here,” said Lisa Versaci, Florida Director for People For the American Way. PFAW is a member of SAVE Dade, a coalition of civil rights groups that have pledged to fight discrimination in Dade County.

David Caton, the head of the Tampa-based Florida Family Association, once advocated discouraging homosexuality by photographing people as they went into gay bars and then hanging their pictures in the post office.

Earlier this year, the Christian Coalition began recruiting volunteers to help gather signatures for the petition drive. A letter on Christian Coalition letterhead characterized the human rights ordinance as an “effort by Satan aimed at our families.” The letter said, “Every Christian should be so motivated by this outbreak of sodomy that they would do everything in their power to reverse [the] ordinance.”

“The beauty and vibrance of Miami-Dade has always been in our diversity and our mutual respect for each other. We will do everything we can to stop this cynical attempt to breed suspicion and distrust among different groups,” said Versaci.

Carole Shields, president of PFAW, added, “The County Commission did the right thing when it passed this ordinance. Anyone who is willing to put in an honest day’s work should be given the opportunity to do so without fear of discrimination.”

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