JMG reader Dave Evans has dug into the archives once more and compiled more than hour of historical news footage about Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaign in Florida. From the clip description:
Featuring gay rights activists Bob Kunst, Leonard Matlovich, Jack Campbell, Ruth Shack & Melodie Moorehead. Save Our Children, Inc. was a political coalition formed in 1977 in Miami, Florida to overturn a recently legislated county ordinance that banned discrimination in areas of housing, employment, and public accommodation based on sexual orientation. The coalition was publicly headed by celebrity singer Anita Bryant, who claimed the ordinance discriminated against her right to teach her children biblical morality. It was a well-organized campaign that initiated a bitter political fight between unprepared gay activists and highly motivated Christian fundamentalists. When the repeal of the ordinance went to a vote, it attracted the largest response of any special election in Dade County’s history, passing by 70%. Save Our Children was the first organized opposition to the gay rights movement, whose beginnings were traced to the Stonewall riots in 1969. The defeat of the ordinance encouraged groups in other cities to attempt to overturn similar laws. In the next year voters in St. Paul, Minnesota, Wichita, Kansas, and Eugene, Oregon overturned ordinances in those cities, sharing many of the same campaign strategies that were used in Miami. Save Our Children was also involved in Seattle, Washington, where they were unsuccessful, and heavily influenced Proposition 6—a proposed state law in California that would have made the firing of openly gay public school employees mandatory—that was rejected by California voters in 1978.
This clip is especially timely as Florida draws close to achieving marriage equality. Watch and see how anti-gay language has scarcely changed in nearly 40 years. Kudos to Dave!