An open letter from Christopher Gates, president of Freedom Democrats, the LGBT Democratic Caucus of Miami-Dade County, to Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson, a candidate for Miami-Dade Commission District 1:
July 11, 2012
To: Shirley Gibson
Mayor, Miami Gardens
It was with great displeasure that I read about your recent comments in regards to Miami Dade’s Human Rights ordinance as reported in the New Times (7/9/12) and the Miami Herald (Steve Rothaus). In the article, they reported that in return for the endorsement of the Christian Family Coalition (CFC) in your non-partisan race for County Commissioner, you promised to “review” the county’s Human Rights ordinance that includes protection from discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation, as well as providing domestic partner benefits to same sex and opposite sex partners. When further pressed, you said that you would not be willing to take it away, but would work for a “cost review” of the ordinance.
As President of the Freedom Democrats, the GLBT Democratic Caucus of Miami Dade County, I would welcome some time to speak with you personally about this issue. In the meantime, please take a moment to read my comments and concerns.
The Democratic Party has a long history of supporting inclusiveness that includes rights that should be afforded every Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning citizen. Although you may welcome the CFC’s endorsement, the GLBT community sees their homophobic agenda as an anathema to our struggle to secure the basic human rights that you, as a woman of color, should be able to at least relate to some degree. The idea that religious bigotry should trump the basic right of people to not be fired from their job or be kicked out of their home is not what most people of faith agree with….and not what most voters of Miami Dade County agreed with when they turned down an attempt to repeal the ordinance in 2002. The CFC does not have a lock on “faith” or ‘family” in our community. There are many GLBT people of faith and our straight allies in the faith community that would find your pandering to the CFC’s agenda abhorrent. Furthermore, I find it offensive that anyone would put human rights up for a “cost review”. How would you like your rights to be subject to an account balance sheet?
Many people in the GLBT community have worked tirelessly over decades to secure rights, not just for themselves, but for other oppressed minorities. I have worked for Democrats for over 20 years, including travelling throughout Missouri with the campaign of Alan Wheat for Senate in 1994. Alan was the first African American to run for statewide office in a general election. I knew his chances were low, but I based my decision on his policies, not the color of his skin. Fourteen years later our country elected the first African American President….a President who has been the most GLBT inclusive President….and who consistently affirms that GLBT people deserve full rights….even “evolving” into his more recent stance for marriage equality. Since then, the board of the NAACP endorsed same-sex marriage on May 19th and within the past week, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and over 20 other leading Latino advocacy organizations endorsed a new public service campaign, “familia es familia”, aimed at helping families understand and accept their Latino sons and daughters, brothers and sisters who are gay or LGBT. What does this all mean? Public acceptance and understanding is leaning toward full rights for GLBT people.
It is unacceptable for any candidate, let alone a Democrat, to be bargaining with the rights of GLBT people in Miami Dade County. It is clear that you are “devolving” on GLBT rights by pandering to one of the last remnants of intolerance in our county. I would respectfully ask and urge that you retract your statements regarding any tampering with our county Human Rights Ordinance and would encourage and welcome you to reach out to the community to find ways in which we could strengthen the rights of all minorities in Miami-Dade County.
Christopher Gates, RPh, MPA
President, Freedom Democrats
GLBT Democratic Caucus of Miami-Dade County