BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 64-32 to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. President Barack Obama says he supports the proposed law, but House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, does not.
On Tuesday, Illinois' legislature voted to approve gay marriage and the state is likely to become the 15th, plus the District of Columbia, where it's legal. And last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal government must recognize all legally sanctioned same-sex marriages.
The modern LGBT rights movement seems to be progressing with intense speed. Many believe it all began 36 years ago in South Florida, when the Miami-Dade Commission adopted a countywide gay-rights ordinance.
"There was this one political activist who was reported as saying, 'When hell freezes over, gay rights will pass in Miami,'" recalls historian Fred Fejes, a professor at Florida Atlantic University. "Well it just so happens that on the day they passed the legislation, that it snowed for the first and only time in recorded history in Miami."
Singer and Florida orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant successfully campaigned to repeal Miami-Dade's 1977 gay-rights law, launching unprecedented public debate on homosexuality across the nation and around the world.
It took 21 years for Miami-Dade County to pass a new gay-rights law in 1998. This time, the ordinance survived a 2002 repeal effort similar to Bryant's.
The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald in association with WPBT2 are completing an hour-long documentary about South Florida's role in the gay-rights movement. The movie, by Miami filmmaker Joe Cardona, is scheduled to air in early 2014.
It is titled The Day It Snowed in Miami.