The Daily Agenda for Friday, June 7

Jim Burroway

June 7th, 2013

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Albany, NY; Anchorage, AK; Athens, Greece; Birmingham, AL; Blackpool, UK; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Des Moines, IA; Detroit, MI; Edmonton, AB; El Paso, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Innsbruck, Austria; Karlsruge, Germany; Key West, FL; Long Island (Huntington), NY; Los Angeles, CA; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Milwaukee, WI; Oxford, UK; Philadelphia, PA; Shanghai China; Söderhamn, Sweden; Split, Croatia; Spokane, WA; Tel Aviv, Israel (Today only); Turin, Italy; Washington, DC; Zurich, Switzerland.

Other Celebrations This Weekend: Razzle Dazzle Dallas, Dallas, TX; Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; Sierra Stampede, Rio Linda, CA; AIDS Lifecycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA (Sponsor BTB’s Rob Tisinai here!); Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Miami Voters Rescind Gay Rights Ordinance: 1977. The Dade County Commission approved an ordinance in January of 1977 that would outlaw discrimination against gay people in employment, housing and public services. Miami joined about 40 other communities around the nation had similar anti-discrimination laws in effect.

Reaction from local Christian conservatives was swift. Former beauty queen and Florida Orage Juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant learned about the ordinance when it was denounced from the pulpit at Northwest Baptist Church. She sprang into action, creating a group called “Save Our Children” to overturn the ordinance at the ballot box. Fearmongering about “access to children” would be the group’s main focus. “When the law requires you to let an admitted homosexual teach your children and serve as a role model for them, it’s time to stop being so tolerant,” Bryant said. Her mean-spiritedness reportedly cost her a planned syndicated television series when producers backed away from the controversial singer. This gave her a chance to reveal her persecution complex. Declaring that “the blacklisting of Anita Bryant has begun,” she claimed that in losing that job, “it destroys the dream that I have had since I was a child.” Gay rights leader and local businessman Bob Kunst relished the irony. “She wants to cause gays to lose their jobs and she complains because she has lost a job. The lady is a hypocrite.”

As acrimonious as the campaign was, the final vote wasn’t even close. When the day of the special election came around, the final tally was 202,319 to just 89,562. Dade County voted overwhelmingly to jump onto Anita Bryant’s bandwagon. Bryant responded, “The laws of God and the cultural values of man have been vindicated,” and announced that she would take her campaign to other cities across America.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?


June 7th, 2013

Career decline and bankruptcies [edit]

The fallout from her political activism hurt her business and entertainment career. Her contract with the Florida Citrus Commission was allowed to lapse in 1979 because of the controversy and the negative publicity generated by her political campaigns and the resulting boycott of Florida orange juice.[1]
Her marriage to Bob Green also failed at that time, and in 1980 she divorced him, citing emotional abuse and latent suicidal thoughts.[18] Green refused to accept this, saying that his fundamentalist religious beliefs did not recognize civil divorce and that she was “still” his wife “in God’s eyes.” In 2007, Green stated: “Blame gay people? I do. Their stated goal was to put her out of business and destroy her career. And that’s what they did. It’s unfair.”[19]

Some fundamentalist audiences and venues shunned her after her divorce. As she was no longer invited to appear at their events, she lost another major source of income. With three of her four children, she moved from Miami to Selma, Alabama, and later to Atlanta, Georgia.[18] In a 1980 Ladies Home Journal article she said, “The church needs to wake up and find some way to cope with divorce and women’s problems.” She also expressed some sympathy for feminist aspirations, given her own experiences of emotional abuse within her previous marriage.[20]
Bryant appeared in Michael Moore’s 1989 documentary film Roger & Me, in which she is interviewed and travels to Flint, Michigan, as part of the effort to revitalize the devastated local economy.[21]

She married her second husband, Charlie Hobson Dry, in 1990.[18] The couple tried to reestablish her music career in a series of small venues, including Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee where they opened “Anita Bryant’s Music Mansion”. The establishment combined Bryant’s performances of her successful songs from early in her career with a “lengthy segment in which she preached her Christian beliefs.” The venture was not successful and the Music Mansion, which had missed meeting payrolls at times, filed for bankruptcy in 2001 with Bryant and Dry leaving behind a series of unpaid employees and creditors.[1]

Bryant also spent part of the 1990s in the country music mecca of Branson, Missouri, where the state and federal governments filed liens claiming more than $116,000 in unpaid taxes. Bryant and Dry had also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Arkansas in 1997 after piling up bills from a failed Anita Bryant show in Eureka Springs, a tourist area in northwest Arkansas. Among the debts were more than $172,000 in unpaid state and federal taxes.[1]
In 2005, Bryant returned to Barnsdall, Oklahoma, for the town’s 100th anniversary celebration and to have a street renamed in her honor. She returned to her high school in Tulsa on April 21, 2007, to perform in the school’s annual musical revue. She now lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, and says she does charity work for various youth organizations while heading Anita Bryant Ministries International.

In a 1980 Ladies Home Journal interview, following her divorce and in the aftermath of her anti-gay activism, Bryant commented on her anti-gay views and said, “I’m more inclined to say live and let live, just don’t flaunt it or try to legalize it.”[20] However, the biography page on her Anita Bryant Ministries website (written in 2006) continues to defend her earlier anti-gay activism and views.[22]


June 7th, 2013

Anita Bryant is truly the instigator of the entire “culture war” we now face. Although she is not responsible for all the organizations and hate campaigns that followed, her Miami effort provided the road map to anti-gay efforts ever since. Lies, myths, propaganda and obfuscation meant to demean, belittle, dehumanize and degrade innocent individuals who merely refuse to practice a “Christian” lifestyle. If I believed in Hell I would wish her a long and painful tenure there.

Incidentally, my dad went to junior high school with Bryant and to this day has nothing good ti say about her.


June 7th, 2013

CPT Doom, I don’t think see is the instigator of the culture war. It was already going on. And, as Christian I don’t wish her to go to hell. But, I admit that she does seem to be stuck on stupid, on gay issues.


June 7th, 2013

I was coming out in 1976 – 1978, and still a member of a Baptist church in Atlanta. My grandmother, who lived with us, loved Anita Bryant’s singing — she did have a great voice. Our church didn’t much talk about the issue or the events in Miami, and I never heard a condemning sermon in that church. In May, 1978, I came out to my mom (my dad had already died). I was 20, still living at home while in college.

In June, 1978, my mom and I were both delegates to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta. Anita Bryant Green was nominated to be a vice-president of the SBC. When it came time to vote, my mother held up her ballot, waved it about a little bit, and loudly said, “I wouldn’t vote for that Anita Bryant person. Absolutely not. I do not think a mean person like that should represent the SBC. No, I’m not voting for her!” It was loud enough for 30 – 40 people around her to hear it.

Now my mom was and is very outspoken. Usually that embarrassed me a bit. This time, though, I realized immediately she was taking my side, that she was telling her church not to hurt her son. And Anita Bryant Green was not elected a VP of the SBC. Yes, that’s right — Southern Baptists, when given the chance, did not expand her platform.


June 7th, 2013

God Bless Anita Bryant! The former Miss America contestant’s antics prompted me to “man up” and kick the closet door wide open. It was her actions that prompted a generation of gay and gay friendly Americans to stand united and refuse to be considered non-persons. Her crusade rekindled our spirit, not seen since the Stone Wall Inn riots. Her efforts prompted our continued demands for equality today. She allowed me to live life as a open gay man. Yep, God Bless Anita Bryant. ( PS- I still don’t drink orange juice.)


June 17th, 2013

As I was reading the comments, I wondered how much better LGBT history might have been without Bryant’s efforts. But thanks to PRESTON, I am reminded that events, particularly human events, cannot be so easily cast as good or evil. What good has come from the evil she sought to reap?

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