For all this talk of who's invited to Gov. Charlie Crist's wedding, has anyone remembered the fire hoses and German shepherds? They tend to occupy the front lines of Republican efforts to quash civil rights, and perhaps they'll make the guest list now that regional gays have announced they're crashing the gov's December 12 nuptials in St. Pete.
Ah, but Impact Florida -- a gay marriage organization hastily formed in the aftermath of Amendment 2's passage last month -- objects to the term "crashing." Theirs is a "demonstration."
"It's not a protest," says Impact Florida spokeswoman Lorna Bracewell. "We won't yell or shout or confront. We will wear pink shirts as a sign of unity, and we'll carry signs that say, 'Congratulations governor. When can I get married?'"
Was that the baying of a German shepherd I just heard?
"Hopefully, we won't be hassled," says Bracewell. "Because we hope to follow the law to the letter. We understand that this is a wedding. We want the demonstration to be respectful, the tone to be positive and peaceful."
Yeah, good luck with that, because a counter-demonstration seems inevitable. I suspect the folks at Westboro Baptist have cleared their busy calendars for that Saturday and that they'll come armed with the usual subtle material. "God Hates Fags" is one of their favorite signs.
Of course, Crist's own sexual orientation has been the subject of much speculation, at least in some unsavory publications. "That rumor" says Bracewell sternly, "is not part of the demonstration."
Impact Florida hopes to attact at least the 400 or so demonstrators they did November 15 for the national day of action, in which gay activists in nearly every major American city staged their own pro-gay marriage march. The First United Church of St. Petersburg, where Crist's wedding is to be held, happens to be across the street from Williams Park, and that's where demonstrators will gather. If local papers are calling it "the social event of the season," then Bracewell says "it's a chance for us to gain visibility for our cause."
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In the run-up to last month's election, when ballots in both Florida and California contained anti-gay marriage amendments, the campaigns on both sides sought to define the issue, and Bracewell thinks the results of the election are proof her side still a perception problem. "The other side was able to conjure up stereotypical images of homosexuals as deviant and promiscuous," she says. "We want to show that we're just as normal and boring as everyone else."