BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Thirty five years ago, Miami-Dade County passed its original gay rights ordinance, amending the existing nondiscrimination law to ban bias in jobs, housing and public accommodations on the basis of ``affectional or sexual preference.''
Nineteen American cities already had passed similar laws. Newly elected Miami-Dade County Commissioner Ruth Shack's proposal unanimously passed on first reading in December 1976.
On Jan. 18, 1977, an angry throng of conservatives, led by [singer and Florida Orange Juice spokeswoman Anita] Bryant, packed the county's downtown Miami commission chambers. But the ordinance passed 5-3.
Bryant vowed to lead a repeal.
Six months later, nearly 300,000 Miami-Dade voters went to the polls. The final vote: 202,319 (about 70 percent) in favor of repeal; 89,562 against.
It took more than 20 years for Miami-Dade to revive and pass the gay-rights law.
On Dec. 1, 1998, the County Commission again passed the law, on a 7-6 vote. Opponents petitioned for a vote. On Sept. 10, 2002, the law was narrowly upheld.