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social sciences

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Miami and Key West  
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Despite the stinging defeat, the glbtq community in Miami and across the nation had been energized. Moreover, though she succeeded in defeating the gay rights ordinance, Anita Bryant herself paid a high price for her homophobia. She became a national symbol of intolerance and, in many quarters, a national laughing stock. The boycott of Florida orange juice had a discernible effect on national sales of the product; and in 1980, after Bryant announced her divorce, she was fired by the Florida Citrus Commission.

Amendment of Miami-Dade County Human Rights Ordinance

It was not until 1998, however, that the Miami-Dade County Commission amended its human rights ordinance to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Once again, conservatives launched a repeal drive. An organization called Take Back Miami-Dade, in conjunction with the Christian Coalition, attempted unsuccessfully to put the issue on the ballot in 2000. Two years later, however, it collected enough signatures to force a vote. The Family Research Council and the American Family Association's Center for Law and Policy joined the repeal campaign.

Sponsor Message.

Fighting for the retention of the ordinance was No to Discrimination/Save Dade, with support from the NGLTF and the Human Rights Campaign. They were successful, and the repeal was defeated by six percentage points.

Election results showed that many Latino voters had supported the repeal, but political consultant Armando Gutiérrez attributed this at least in part to "misinformation" directed by the proponents of repeal at older Cuban-Americans. He found "a lot of confusion" among the group, many of whom believed that the ballot issue was about same-sex marriage.

Cuban-Americans were, however, also among the strongest in support of equal rights. Miami's generally conservative and Republican Cuban community is staunchly opposed to the regime of Fidel Castro, whose persecution and internment of gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians became an issue of grave concern, particularly in the mid-1990s, when many glbtq Cuban-Americans began coming out and taking leadership roles as activists.

Political scientist Juan Carlos Espinoza stated, "When people in their family came out, lots of Cuban-Americans started changing their minds" about homosexuality, which has long been stigmatized in Cuba.

Miami is now home to various glbtq attractions, including the very successful Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, held annually in the spring. Two circuit parties--the White Party in November, which benefits an HIV/AIDS organization, and the Winter Party in March, in support of the Dade Human Rights Foundation--take place in the city.

The Art Deco South Beach district is the site of a number of popular gay clubs. There are no strictly lesbian venues in Miami, but many bars throughout the city feature a weekly lesbian or gay night.

Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors

Since the mid-1990s Fort Lauderdale, Miami's neighbor city to the north, has been emerging as an attractive glbtq travel destination as well. Fort Lauderdale has actively promoted itself as gay-friendly, spending over a quarter of a million dollars in marketing in 2004 to draw glbtq vacationers. With a variety of clubs, restaurants, and lodging places, it offers something for people of all ages. The city now ranks as America's fifth most popular site with gay travelers.

The nearby small city of Wilton Manors has many gay-owned businesses, including popular restaurants. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of its 12,600 residents are gay or lesbian.

Key West

At the very end of the Florida Keys, Key West has a long tradition of nonconformity. Its image as a place where individualism is not only accepted but celebrated has been an attraction to many people over the years.

The isolated island was a haven for pirates in the eighteenth century. In 1822 an American businessman, John Simonton, bought it, and the Navy established a base there with the aim of stamping out piracy.

With an economy based on fishing, salvaging shipwrecks, and cigar-making, Key West prospered in the nineteenth century. These industries faltered in the early years of the twentieth century, however, and there was a steady decline in the island's economy and population until the mid-1930s, when the Federal Emergency Relief Administration funded efforts to restore the city and make it an attractive tourist destination.

Among those drawn to Key West were several prominent writers. Ernest Hemingway was a resident in the 1930s, and Pulitzer Prize-winning lesbian poet Elizabeth Bishop and her lover lived together on the island from 1938 to 1946.

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