Many believe that Carlos Gimenez's endorsement from several gay rights groups in the Miami-Dade County mayoral election helped propel him to a narrow victory over Julio Robaina. So why the hell was he speaking at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Family Coalition, a fringe organization most notable for opposing the "homosexual agenda" at every stop and trying to resurrect anti-gay laws from Miami-Dade's homophobic past?
The Christian Family Coalition may have a feel-good name, but make no mistake the group's founder and executive director Anthony Verdugo is something of the less successful, second coming of Anita Bryant. In 1977, Dade County passed an ordinance protecting homosexuals from discrimination at the workplace and in housing. Bryant lead a successful, high-profile campaign to have the ordinance repealed. Twenty years later, Miami-Dade once again passed a similar bill protecting homosexuals from discrimination. Verdugo helped lead a similar effort to have the new ordinance repealed by a referendum, but it was voted down by 56 percent of voters in 2002. In other words, his most extreme views haven't flown with Miami-Dade voters for at least the past decade.
That hasn't stopped Verdugo and his group from working to opposed gay rights at every turn. The group called Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen "an arrogant, anti-Family, homosexualist extremist" for her support of gay rights. The group opposes even domestic partner registries, and claimed that former Mayor Carlos Alvarez "got on his knees for homosexual groups" for granting domestic partner benefits to the same-sex partners of county employees. They've even blasted AAA for offering family memberships to gay couples.
So it's a bit concerning that some of the top elected officials in Miami-Dade County still speak at events hosted by the fringe group. Eye on Miami points out that State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez, and Miami-Dade chairman Joe Martinez all appeared last Saturday at a prayer breakfast sponsored by the group.
Verdugo is now using their attendance to legitimize his group's extremist views.
"The presence of these top elected officials from Miami-Dade County, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami-Dade Chairman Joe Martinez, is indicative of the increasing support for the work of the Christian Family Coalition (CFC) among fair-minded elected officials," he said in a release on the group's website.
I wonder what gay rights groups like Save Dade, who endorsed Gimenez, would have to say about that.
Of course, Miami-Dade mayors trying to cultivate support from both gay rights supporters and homophobes is nothing new. Recalled mayor Carlos Alvarez used to do it all the time.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.