Last month, when the City Council of Doral unanimously approved a plan to extend benefits to domestic partners of city employees -- becoming the seventh Miami-Dade County to do so -- the move was hailed by activists and city leaders.
But the council's decision has also sparked strong opposition. In the last few weeks, mailers have been bombarding the city excoriating the benefits plan and urging protest. "Marriage benefits = Married employees only! the fliers read. "The Doral City Council wants to force YOU to pay with your money for "marriage" benefits to all "domestic partners."
The fight will come to a head tonight at Doral City Hall, where a hearing on gay marriage will be open to the public.
After the initial benefits plan was passed, Doral's city manager ruled the city needs an actual ordinance in order to extend the benefits, says Maria Barth, deputy director of the pro-benefits group SAVE Dade.
The issue will be brought up in a public hearing as part of the city's 6 p.m. council meeting. Barth is urging supporters to attend.
"This is a great opportunity for a city like Doral ... to really move forward on this and to really show its constituents that they're on the side of inclusion," she says.
Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE Dade, adds that the opposition campaign was not unexpected. "We've seen it all across the country," Lima said in a statement provided to Riptide. "Small but loud groups of opponents of human rights picketing ... to express their refusal to consider gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people as human beings ...The good news is the strategy doesn't work."
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So who's behind the sudden anti-gay right's push in Doral?
Barth, at least, believes it's the Christian Family Coalition, a group that has frequently advocated against gay rights -- including yesterday at the Miami-Dade County Commission. CFC's leaders didn't return a call from Riptide to comment.