A Man in Full Fight

Hear why this crusader wants to save you from the evils of gay rights

By then Armesto, an ardent supporter of the boy's stay in Miami, had apparently reached his tolerance level and strolled out the banquet room doors, where he conversed intensely with Seth Gordon, managing partner of the GDB + Partners public relations firm along with State Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. Gordon told Armesto the referendum was a bad idea, regardless of one's views on homosexuality. "Referenda are like nitroglycerin," he warned Armesto. "You shake it up and you don't know what it's going to do." Gordon, who supports the ordinance, told him it would be less divisive to try to pass a bill in Tallahassee instead. "What's going to happen is it's going to end up being about Alex," he warned, referring to Mayor Penelas.

"In a way it is about Alex," Armesto replied.

Armesto's presence at the gathering had the mysterious effect of making everyone else seem united. Even the bitterest of rivals, Milian and Fernandez Rundle, Republican and Democrat, respectively, were joined against him. Both oppose repeal of the sexual-orientation amendment. "I think it's a terrible idea," said Milian of the referendum. "I just told him so. I'll do it again if you want to watch."

Eladio José Armesto, the pride of Miami-Dade's anti-homosexualist movement, explains Take Back's petition drive to TV viewers
Photo by Steve Satterwhite
Eladio José Armesto, the pride of Miami-Dade's anti-homosexualist movement, explains Take Back's petition drive to TV viewers
Take Back Miami-Dade organizers dropped off the fruit of their petition drive to the county's supervisor of elections in December 2000
Photo by Steve Satterwhite
Take Back Miami-Dade organizers dropped off the fruit of their petition drive to the county's supervisor of elections in December 2000

The event ended without a shouting match.

Many of the county's savviest political minds still can't explain why Armesto would dedicate himself to this particular battle. Mayor Diaz draws a blank. "I really haven't sat down and given that any serious thought," he chortles. "But if I think of something I'll let you know."

"Well, it's a great way to raise money," offered one local public-opinion analyst. Armesto maintains that Take Back Miami-Dade has no office, no budget, and no paid staff.

"I have no clue what their motivation is," groans Mursuli. "The only thing I can think of is that they'd rather that gay people went away or didn't exist or would live in the closet and feel badly about who we are and what our families look like. And you know what? That's not happening. So, wake up and smell the coffee. We're here to stay."

Not so fast, says Armesto. "We got so many problems in this community," he complains. "Why did SAVE Dade pick this problem to heap upon us? Why have homosexualists turned this into an issue if not to shake down their community, gain political power, and get their picture in the paper? If nobody is bothering them, if nobody is discriminating against them, if nobody is chasing them around, why make this tacky and idiotic amendment an issue, other than because they want to exhibit themselves, parade down the street."

But wasn't it Armesto's group that has turned the amendment into an issue by pushing to repeal the ordinance? Aren't the leaders of Take Back trying to establish themselves as a political force as well? "The fact of the matter is that we did not impose this on the people of Dade County," Armesto insists. "So whoever asks that question is either stupid or acting in bad faith. They are either very very stupid or ignorant."

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