We have a very special Swag Tuesday today – three autographed copies of Ending Anita, our own Father Tony Adams’ recounting of how two Key West bartenders become the first couple in Florida to win a same-sex marriage lawsuit. From the book’s Amazon description:
ENDING ANITA is the story of Aaron Huntsman and Lee Jones, the two gay, outspoken and impatient blue-collar Key West bartenders with no experience as activists who won gay marriage for Florida.
Any online search for information about gay marriage (marriage equality) in Florida will get you the dates, court cases and rulings, but ENDING ANITA introduces you to the people behind the headlines. In addition to the Florida plaintiffs Aaron and Lee, you will meet the straight, Republican Roman Catholic mother who became their brilliant lawyer and then their friend. You will meet the gay judge who was slated to hear their case but was suspiciously chased off the bench because of his profile on a gay hook-up site. You will meet the gay former Marine with experience in the Hollywood film industry who helped guide them through the media scrutiny that almost drowned them during their suit. You will meet the close-knit circle of loyal and protective Conch (Key West) friends who stood with Aaron and Lee in their battle for justice.
ENDING ANITA is also about the fact that most of the men at the center of Aaron and Lee’s case are HIV-positive. They courageously chose to disclose rather than hide this fact. Because of their openness and candor, the stigma of HIV/AIDS is one step closer to elimination. They could have chosen to live their lives at the perpetual Happy Hour that is Key West. Instead, they went to work, changing the course of history and making life in Florida better for everyone.
Gay marriage (marriage equality) is now the law of the land thanks to the Supreme Court. That victory was actually earned by LGBT activists on the state-level where they fought against anti-gay laws treating them as second-class citizens. Florida in particular was beset by homophobic laws spawned by Anita Bryant’s Miami-based anti-gay fear mongering of 1977. Florida public sentiment has now changed in favor of LGBT rights, but anti-gay politicians did not want those laws dropped.
Aaron and Lee, with no political or legal experience, were told they were in over their heads. This did not stop them.
Gay visibility is at the root of LGBT acceptance. A life in the closet never won a single battle for equality. The Stonewall riots of 1969 mobilized the LGBT community, forced the world to see them clearly and sent them into the streets demanding justice. Stonewall ignited the first generation of activists who paved the way for marriage equality.
Aaron and Lee were born post-Stonewall! Despite several decades of LGBT progress, when they went to their County Clerk’s office to request a marriage license, they were declined. ENDING ANITA is the story of their winning fight against that discrimination.
For students of Florida history, ENDING ANITA contains a marriage equality timeline, a history of gay Florida and a history of gay Key West. The addenda include the Huntsman v. Heavilin suit, the court transcript of the hearing and the text of Judge Garcia’s ruling.
All three copies are signed by Tony, Aaron and Lee. Winners will be chosen randomly on Friday from the comments on this post. If you are not registered with Disqus, please include an email address in your comment. Ending Anita is on sale now at Amazon.