Our friend Ned Flaherty has written a 7-part investigative series on what’s going on with marriage equality in Florida, and has graciously allowed us to repost it here. Below is part 1. You can find all 7 parts of the series at the New Civil Rights Movement.
Part 1: LGBT Groups Oppose Equal Marriage Campaign
Republican political operatives are about to give anti-LGBT hate groups just what they crave: a lopsided defeat for gay rights in the deepest South. NCRM’s 7-part investigative series reveals how progress toward marriage equality in other states is threatened by current events in Florida.
As marriage equality soars in its longest unbroken string of victories ever, opponents are still trying to dismiss the first 18 states as mere flukes. Behind the scenes, however, those same enemies are desperate to defeat any gay rights measure, anywhere, by any means, especially if that defeat makes marriage equality look less inevitable. The best way to do that would be by breaking the string of recent successes with a giant loss.
Enter Vanessa Brito, a Republican political consultant in Miami, Florida. Last June, with donations from former Republican Governor of New Mexico and Republican/Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, and with expertise from GOP political strategist Tim Mooney, Vanessa Brito established Florida Political Action Committee #60477, and named it Equal Marriage Florida (EMFL). After appointing herself as both Chairperson and Treasurer, and getting the Log Cabin Republicans on board as an “active partner and leading proponent,” she predicted that her group would raise and spend $6 million repealing Florida’s constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage. In 2008, Floridians voted 62% for the ban, and only 38% against the ban. Six years later, that 38% figure has not changed.
Thirteen Florida organizations quickly rejected Brito’s plan, which they deemed costly, psychologically harmful, and doomed at the polls. They feared that such a loss would needlessly postpone LGBT rights in Florida, and as well as break the nationwide winning streak.
The timing of Brito’s idea was so inopportune, and its execution has been so lackluster, that some wonder if this might be a stealth campaign, secretly launched by anti-LGBT forces, and engineered to fail on purpose. An alternate explanation might be that this tax-exempt campaign could have been created to funnel some of its supposed $6 million of donations into revenue at Brito’s political consulting business, MYami Marketing, Incorporated.
Even though local leaders opposed her idea as premature and reckless, Brito charged ahead anyway. Less than three months later, she began complaining that her campaign suffered from negative articles written by careless reporters. She said she wanted to set the record straight, and promised journalists interviews in which she would provide clarity and insight, and would keep information “seamless and transparent.”