A Day of Reckoning

With Moss's support, the ordinance passed.
"It was one of the most difficult and one of the most significant votes I have been a part of on this commission," Moss offers. "But those are the types of major issues we have to face in this county, and as commissioners we are in leadership positions and we have to step up to the plate and make those types of decisions. I'm glad I made the decision I did because I feel it places a measure of protection for folks who have faced discrimination in this community for a long time. This isn't going to get rid of discrimination, but at least it will provide some remedies, and hopefully people will think twice now before they do discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation."

Moss is unfazed by talk of the Christian Coalition's vows to target him with a recall petition. "If they move forward with a [recall], it won't be a referendum on Commissioner Moss, it will be a referendum on the Christian Coalition," Moss says feistily. "And what it is going to do is open up the opportunity to talk about some of their positions all over this country in terms of opposing civil rights, opposing women's rights, trying to dismantle affirmative action, opposing the rights of immigrants, and on and on and on. So it's not going to be a referendum on me, it's going to be a referendum on the Christian Coalition. And when I look at the interests of the people of my district, a lot of the things the Christian Coalition opposes -- well, those are things that the people in my district support."

As the roll call commenced and Alonso voted against the ordinance, Katy Sorenson says her hopes did not sink. "Going into the vote I didn't have high expectations it was going to pass," she recalls. "I was actually feeling pretty Zen about the whole thing. Either it was going to happen or it wasn't."

But when it was Moss's turn to vote and he launched into his speech, Sorenson says her heart began pounding. "I thought to myself, He's going to vote yes!" she remembers. "I started tearing up. And then Gwen grabbed my hand and looked at me and she was smiling, and I could see she was about to cry, and then Barbara grabbed my other hand and there were tears in her eyes. The three of us just sat there clutching each other's hands. And finally Dennis voted yes. It was such a very powerful moment. I don't think I will ever forget it. I was just overwhelmed."

Sorenson describes the ordinance as the most important piece of legislation she has ever worked on. "This was why I went into public service," she says, "to change public policy and work on issues I really care about."

Perhaps the most telling aspect of last week's vote was the fact that the six commissioners who voted against the ordinance had nothing to say. Their positions, rooted in fear, ignorance, and bigotry, were so indefensible, so manifestly unjust, that those opposed became virtual mutes when it came time for the commissioners to debate the proposal's merits.

Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, who rarely passes up an opportunity to make a speech, kept his mouth shut. As did Natacha Millan, Javier Souto, and Alonso. Before he voted no, Dorrin Rolle mumbled something about how this ordinance seemed to convey "special rights" to gays. And Pedro Reboredo, making one of his rare appearances at a commission meeting, said he thought that if he voted in favor of the ordinance, he would incur God's wrath. "Someday we will have to answer not to the voters but to someone above the 29th floor," he said. "Because I'm afraid, I vote no."

Given that such a simple ordinance took years to approve and was passed by the narrowest of margins, we should all probably be a little afraid.

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