Two bad ballot measures face voters in November
Donna Tara Lee
September 2008

This year Florida voters are faced with an issue that will severely curtail the rights of Florida citizens. This is Amendment 2, the so-called gay marriage ban. At the present time there are four laws in Florida banning gay marriage. Do we need another one?

Amendment 2 does far more than just banning gay marriage but will also ban all domestic partnership legislation. And yes, the wording is the same as the Michigan ban which is now being used to outlaw domestic partnerships in Michigan where they are recognized. This is fact, not the lies we were told beforehand that this would not be the case. The question should be, do we need one at all? The answer to that is a resounding NO!!!!!

Where does it say in the Constitution that same sex couples are not allowed to marry? It does not. OK, lets for the sake of argument say that the Constitution reserves marriage laws to state jurisdiction. This is true. But it does not allow discrimination as a basis for any and all state laws. At one time certain states disallowed interracial marriage. In the Loving v. Virginia case of 1967, the Supreme Court ruled such laws unconstitutional. States today have either ruled gay marriage to be legal or are allowing domestic partnerships as a first step to full legalization. Despite the rantings of the religious right, our nation is still intact, and shall stay intact, despite John and Joe and Mary and Jane getting married.

Today in Gainesville we also face a move to repeal our charter amendment that guarantees equal rights to our Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgendered (LGBT) community. The original charter amendment has been on the books for about 15 years now and originally covered LGB citizens. This past January the City Commission added transgender persons to this amendment as a group covered by anti-discrimination laws same as the LGB citizens already are. This has set off a firestorm of lies, innuendo, and just plain fraud as has not been seen here in 15 years.

A group calling itself Citizens for Good Public Policy has succeeded in putting together a petition drive that will revisit the whole issue of LGB civil rights in Gainesville. What this group has done is just not gone after transgender citizens, but are also attempting to roll back all civil rights granted by the city of Gainesville that are not covered by the state civil rights code. This will ban Gainesville from having statutes that allow basic civil rights for the LGB community. In other words, these rights that have been law for 15 years shall be repealed under the charter revision code. It is just not aimed at transgender citizens of Gainesville but includes same-sex oriented citizens of our community also. This is a far reaching rollback of basic civil rights granted almost a generation ago.

Who are the persons who are backing such a radical change in our city charter? They are your basic right wing religious conservatives. They believe in creationism, abstention as the only safe method of birth control, are anti-choice, believe father knows best, that unions and national health care are communist plots against our capitalist society and that LGBT citizens are doomed to hell forever. They also, and this is the dangerous part, believe in America under God as they believe in the tenets put forth by their god, no one else's. An end to Religious freedom as we know it since the First Amendment went into effect.

The group involved here, Citizens for Good Public Policy has a twin sister in Montgomery County, Maryland that has produced the same amendment there for the voters to vote on. Same wording as here. This group is active in other areas also. They are not a local group but rather a nationwide conspiracy to deny LGBT citizens their fundamental rights as citizens of the United States. Their local leaders are Cain Davis, a former state legislative candidate and an evangelical right wing minister, and Dennis Baxley, from Marion County, a defeated conservative candidate for state senate who is now chairman of Florida Focus on Families, an extremely religious conservative group originating in Colorado. I do not think these gentlemen are representative of Gainesville.

By this time some of you may be asking, well what is transgenderism all about? Transgenderism is a disease that has no known cure, only treatment. Due to the huge amount of suicides among transgender individuals it is safe to say it is a rather serious disease. The disease is called Gender Dysphoria and it simply is that the individual believes they were born into the wrong gender body. The ill person believes if male they should be female and vice versa.

Some suffering individuals are so distraught over their condition they eventually have gender reassignment surgery, or GRS, and fully become a member of the opposite sex. Florida does recognize such individuals as the sex they changed to legally.

The first substantiated sex change surgery took place in 1931, 20+ years before the Christine Jorgenson case. Magnus Hirschfield started the Sexual Science Institute in Berlin in the 1920's. This institute made groundbreaking progress in gender studies for its time until the institute was attacked, ransacked, its work destroyed and the building burnt in 1933. The perpetrators? Oh, just a group famous for intolerance, the Nazis. Dr. Harry Benjamin, and this is where a lot of the claims of the religious right concerning men in dresses can and shall be rebutted, continued this work. Dr. Benjamin was a United States citizen till his death. The importance of Dr. Benjamin's work cannot be overstated. He set the medical/psychological standards, still in effect today, for how an individual transitions from one gender to another. One must undergo years of therapy, must take hormones, and live in the gender they wish to transition to for one year before having GRS.

A person who does not have GRS still has to undergo therapy to be truly considered transgendered. These are tough standards, as they should be. This is truly a life changing undertaking, from which there is no return.

I have stated these qualifications and a brief history to tell our citizens the truth on this issue. I do not want good citizens fooled by the misleading fear tactics of the Citizens for Good Public Policy. Taking away basic civil rights from American citizens is never good public policy, only bigotry.

In the 1960's how many citizens would have voted in favor of integration if it was put up to a vote? I am sure the vast majority (white) would have favored segregation. Rights should never be voted on. Rights are guaranteed under the constitution, not subject to the tyrannical whims of a majority. We have majority rule with minority rights, which are our basic constitutional rights. Thank you, our founding fathers, for this recognition of basic human rights.

I do have a vested interest in this dispute. I moved to Gainesville from Ocala in March 2008 due to Gainesville's civil rights ordinance. Back in 2000, I came out, as it is said, and began to transition from male to female. This was no quick choice but rather a heart wrenching decision I had been living with since I first realized at the age of 5 &1/2 in February, 1954, that I liked dresses better than pants and shirts. This led to a few suicide attempts, the first at the age of 8. The rope broke.

I solved the problem when at the age of 16 I started drinking and this worked till I was near death from alcoholism at the age of 45. When drinking I could be a man, and oh I was. Track runner, boxer, softball player, skier, hockey player, brawler, I did them all and did them well. I was quite the man.

But when I went to AA and started a program of recovery I could no longer hide or suppress my knowledge that, oops, I am the wrong sex. Now just imagine the heart ache one feels that every time they look in the mirror they see a mistake. So there were 2 more suicide attempts, a near fatal bout with cancer and a final realization that I could live my life honestly if I really wanted to. So I followed the Benjamin standards and became a woman in February, 2001.

I cannot say my life has been perfect since. I have lost family and friends from before. But I have gained a new life, with new friends who accept me for me. I have retired from Government work after 35 years and today I work here in Gainesville in a very responsible position finally using my educational level in doing so. I am very active in community affairs and have fallen head over heals in love with this wonderful city. I look forward to living the rest of my life here as a active, productive member of society.

In these attitudes I feel I am representative of every person who has a love of Gainesville. And to be quite honest, the only time I have ever felt threatened in a bathroom was when I was 12 and a man tried to abuse me. And he was not wearing a dress. Do not believe those who use that lie to frighten and scare, to divide and conquer. There have never been any charges filed in our city where a man in a dress went into the ladies room to molest a female.

Those are just plain lies. Let us bury them once and for all.

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