Tuesday, March 24, 2009

VICTORY!! Amendment 1 Defeated in Gainesville, Florida!

Gainesville, Florida (Observer Update) - Gainesville, Fla.’s Amendment 1 -- which, if passed, would have repealed a number of antidiscrimination protections for LGBT residents in the college town -- failed at the polls Tuesday. With the majority of precincts reporting, results have the amendment failing with 61% voting no and 39% voting yes.

The repeal movement began last year after the city commission revised the antidiscrimination law to include protections for transgender people in employment, housing, and public accommodations -- including restrooms.

Opponents using scare tactics about mixed-sex public bathrooms gathered enough signatures to place a referendum of the protections on the ballot. Charter Amendment 1 would have eliminated not only transgender protections but also protections for gays and lesbians in the North Florida city. It also would have forbade the city to add protected categories that are not included in the Florida Civil Rights Act, which does not recognize sexual orientation or gender identity.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund lauds defeat of Gainesville’s Charter Amendment 1

Measure sought to enshrine discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the city charter for years to come

WASHINGTON, March 24 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund hails the defeat of Charter Amendment 1 in Gainesville, Fla. The referendum would have effectively eliminated the nondiscrimination protections that Gainesville extends lesbian, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people by requiring the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to conform to the state’s nondiscrimination laws, which do not cover sexual orientation or gender identity.

“This is a great day for Gainesville. Voters rejected the right-wing’s attempts to make their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friends, family and neighbors second-class citizens. While the opposition rooted its campaign in lies and scare tactics, fair-minded Gainesville voters knew that Charter Amendment 1 was really about discrimination,” says Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund. “We congratulate Equality is Gainesville’s Business for its hard work to defeat this ugly and hurtful measure, and to ensure that Gainesville remains a welcoming community for all — including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

The Task Force Action Fund provided significant support to Equality is Gainesville’s Business (EQGB), including donating $7,500 of direct seed money to launch the campaign; paying for a contract field organizer to work on the ground in Gainesville during the campaign’s final six-week period; sending two Task Force organizers to Gainesville for three-and-a-half weeks to provide training and technical assistance to EQGB’s field team; and assisting with message development for EQGB’s paid media campaign.

“EQGB greatly appreciates the support of the Task Force and other partnering organizations that responded to EQGB’s appeal for help,” says Joe Saunders, EQGB’s campaign manager. “The Task Force’s expertise and hands-on support was invaluable to building a successful campaign and defeating Charter Amendment 1.”
A broad coalition of groups came together to defeat Charter Amendment 1, including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, Equality Florida, the ACLU of Florida, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLAAD, SAVE Dade, Organizations United Together (O.U.T.) and UM (University of Miami) for Equality, UF Students for Change, Planned Parenthood of Florida, Gainesville Area NOW and Judy Levy NOW.

Human Rights Campaign Applauds Vote to Uphold Non-Discrimination Laws in Gainesville, Florida

Gainesville Voters Defeated Ballot Measure Seeking to Repeal Protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender People

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, issued the following release regarding voting in a city election in Gainesville, Florida today, where voters rejected a proposed amendment to the city charter that would have repealed existing laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Amendment 1, which would have repealed ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, was defeated 58 percent to 42 percent.

“This is an important victory for equality, for the proposition that people deserve to be judged based on their merits, and should not face discrimination simply because of who they are,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Gainesville voters saw past the deception and scare tactics used by proponents of Amendment 1 and made clear that Gainesville rejects discrimination against any of its residents, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

Solmonese continued: “Congratulations to Commissioner Craig Lowe, Equality is Gainesville’s Business, Equality Florida, the ACLU, as well as Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, and the rest of the city commission, and the many activists, including HRC members, who worked so hard to protect equality for everyone in Gainesville.”

Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan added: “As Mayor, I am extremely pleased that Gainesville voters chose to reaffirm that discrimination has no place in our city. Many thanks to Equality is Gainesville’s Business and the hundreds of tireless volunteers who represented the true values of Gainesville. These volunteers demonstrated the diversity and expertise within our community, representing such groups as the NAACP of Alachua County, the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU of Florida, the University of Florida Student Senate and others.”

The Human Rights Campaign has had a field director on the ground in Gainesville for more than a month working with Equality is Gainesville’s Business (a group formed to oppose Amendment 1), Equality Florida, HRC members and other activists to organize opposition to Amendment 1. A field organizer was sent to Gainesville to assist for the past two weeks. Their work included organizing door to door canvassing and phone banks to voters.

Gainesville ordinances have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1998. Discrimination based on gender identity has been prohibited since January 2008. A petition drive last year placed Amendment 1 on the ballot in today’s city election.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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