2, the FDP did nothing on the issue. The FDP claims that it doesn’t take positions on
Constitutional amendments, and normally that would make sense. But Amendment 2
is, at its core, a civil rights issue that will ensure Florida’s GLBT community is held to a
different standard than others in Florida, as well as potentially take away health care
and other benefits from unmarried couples, both same sex and opposite sex.
Already, that effort is underway. David Caton, director of the Florida Family Association,
told the St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald in December that he plans to use
the amendment to end domestic partner benefits in Hillsborough County. “We’re going
to use the momentum from the marriage amendment to speak to the fact that most
people in this state don’t want a recognition of that type of relationship,” Caton said. “At
this time of economic stress, our government should not be providing benefits to non-
employees on the basis of their sexual relationship.”
That tactic isn’t surprising: anti-Amendment 2 campaign Florida Red and Blue was
pushing the fact that supporters of these amendments have a track record in other
states of claiming before the election they’re only about “one man, one woman”
marriage but after passage make a beeline to pull back benefits. And Hillsborough is
one of several flashpoint sites in Florida for anti-gay sentiments in the public arena (Fort
Lauderdale’s anti-gay mayor Jim Naugle and the current battle over transgender rights
in Gainesville are also at the top of the list).
And that’s why the FDP’s reversal of its commitment to Albetta prompted a new strategy.
“We’re proud to be Democrats, and proud there’s one party in Florida that
www.ambiente.us JANUARY | ENERO 2009
OPEd | GLBT DEMS TAKE KEY PARTY POSITIONS
IN THE WAKE OF AMENDMENT 2
By Stephen Gaskill
The passage of Amendment 2, the “Florida Marriage Protection Amendment,” by more
than 60 percent of Florida’s voters last fall is having its expected repercussions among
the Sunshine State’s sizable GLBT community. Florida’s gay and lesbian Democrats,
while feeling betrayed by their straight Democratic brothers and sisters as well as the
Florida Democratic Party (FDP), are taking matters into their own hands the democratic
(small “d”) way – by getting elected to FDP positions.
At County organizational elections in December, seven openly GLBT members of the
Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus were elected as state committeemen and women.
And Rick Boylan of Pinellas County was elected Secretary of the FDP, becoming the
highest-ranking openly-gay representative of the Party.
Why does this matter? Because the Florida Democratic Party is in a position to help
defeat initiatives like Amendment 2 – which it didn’t do last year. Despite a commitment
from the FDP’s executive director to Michael Albetta, president of the GLBT Democratic
Caucus, to produce campaign mail opposing Amendment
• Monroe County: George Maurer, openly gay State Committeeman; president of the
Lambda Democrats of Key West, a chapter of the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus.
• Pinellas County: Rick Boylan, openly gay State Committeeman; new Secretary of
the Florida Democratic Party; President of the Pinellas Stonewall Democrats, a chapter
of the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus; Secretary of the National Stonewall
Democrats, the GLBT arm of the Democratic National Committee.
Boylan’s election as FDP Secretary is particularly important because of his
background. Now a resident of St. Petersburg, Boylan worked for 20 years at the
Democratic National Committee in Washington in a variety of positions, including
Director of Party Affairs and Delegate Selection. He brings national credentials to an
organization that sometimes seems like it’s of the “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!”
While the battle over Amendment 2 is lost as a statewide issue, there are still
numerous local scuffles to fight. With solid GLBT leadership in position throughout the
FDP, maybe now the Party will stand up for one of its major constituencies.
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openly courts our votes and our support,” Albetta said. “But quite frankly, I’m tired of the
lip service. If the FDP wants our money and our votes, they have to stand up for our
community when we’re on the ballot. That didn’t happen in the last election.”
So Albetta and the Caucus leadership set about electing openly-gay representatives to
the County Democratic Executive Committees (DECs), which set local policy, recruit
candidates, and raise and spend campaign cash. “We’re taking a page from what we
tell all the campaigns we’re involved in: build it from the ground up,” Albetta said.
The list of newly-elected reps is impressive:
• Alachua County: Terry Fleming, openly gay State Committeeman; member of the
Alachua County Stonewall Democrats, a chapter of the Florida GLBT Democratic
Caucus; Parliamentarian of the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus.
• Hillsborough County: Sally Phillips, openly gay State Committeewoman; President,
Hillsborough County GLBTA Caucus, a chapter of the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus.
• Hillsborough County: Alan Clendenin, openly gay State Committeeman; voted in
as a DNC member; member, Hillsborough County GLBTA Caucus, a chapter of the
Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus.
• Leon County: Jon Ausman, openly bisexual State Committeeman; voted in as a
• Leon County: Josh Hicks, openly gay DEC Secretary; member of the Capital
City GLBT Democrats, a chapter of the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus.
• Monroe County: George Maurer, openly gay State Committeeman;
president of the Lambda Democrats of Key West, a chapter of the
Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus.