Thursday, August 26, 2004

Pledge of Intolerance

From the Miami Herald:

A conservative Christian organization has asked candidates for Miami-Dade mayor and other local positions to sign a pledge to oppose gay marriage and domestic partnerships “with my votes, powers and privileges of public office,” reopening a debate that has long polarized South Florida and national politics.

One who signed the Miami-Dade Christian Family Coalition’s pledge was retired Judge Leslie Rothenberg, a candidate for the GOP nomination for state attorney. Legal experts said she could face ethical questions for signing — a contention that she disputes.

One mayoral candidate, former Commissioner Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, signed the full pledge, and another, former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferré, signed but crossed out parts of it.

Both Broward County and the city of Miami Beach offer a domestic partnership registry, but Miami-Dade does not officially recognize gay couples.

The marriage pledge calls domestic partnerships and civil unions “marriage counterfeits” that undermine traditional marriage. It says marriage between a man and a woman is the strongest foundation for a child.

Diaz de la Portilla said he signed because “I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Ferré said he struck out clauses that would have required him to oppose domestic partnership benefits and civil unions.

Of the other mayoral candidates:

• Former Police Director Carlos Alvarez said he doesn’t recall being asked to sign the pledge. He said he opposes gay marriage, but said he does not know enough about domestic partnerships to take a position.

• Businessman Jose Cancela said he did not sign. “I didn’t even read the thing that they gave me to be honest with you,” he said. “I’m not going to opine on issues that divide this community even more.”

Cancela said he supports domestic-partner benefits.

• Restaurateur Jay Love supports partnerships but opposes gay adoption. He refused to sign the pledge: “It was just too far to the right.”

• Commissioner Jimmy Morales said he hadn’t seen the pledge, but would not have signed. He is the only mayoral candidate who took a public vote to add gays and lesbians to the county’s human rights ordinance. He has been endorsed by the gay-rights organization SAVE Dade, which calls the current pledge discriminatory.

Miami-Dade has been having this on-again/off-again battle over gay rights since 1977 when Anita Bryant made such a stink (and lost her endorsement gig with the Florida Citrus Growers in the process) about equal rights for all. And just two years ago the Religious Reich tried to have the equal protection clause taken out of the charter – it went down in flames (pun intended). Now it’s back with this blood oath, and it looks like Jimmy Morales is the only one with cojones to tell them to take a flying fuck. (Jose Cancela clucked out with the mystifying “I’m not going to opine….” What the hell does that mean?)

What really pisses me off is that Miami-Dade has far more serious problems than worrying about same-sex marriage. Let’s get our priorities figured out here, people.