Wednesday, January 7, 2015

More on Florida's Epiphanic Moment: Anita Crying, Catholic Archbishop Shaking Bully Stick

Yesterday, I called the breaking out of human rights and equality for gay citizens in Florida an epiphanic moment. More on that theme today, in articles I've read this morning commenting on the opening to same-sex marriage in Florida:

For New York Times, Lizette Alvarez and Nila Do Simon note the important symbolic significance of Florida in the national battle for human rights for gay people:

Along the way, the third-largest state, the home of antigay crusades in the 1970s, became a vivid symbol of the extraordinary changes that have shifted the landscape of marriage in America. Only six years ago, Florida passed a constitutional amendment to ban on gay marriage, garnering 62 percent of the vote.

And in a posting at his Americablog site aptly entitled "Anita Cried," John Aravosis reminds us of the struggle, the bitter history and tears, that preceded this significant breakthrough: 

The victory in Florida is an especially exciting win for gay rights advocates as Florida was the scene of one of the most bitter battles in American gay rights history, when singer and former Florida orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant organized the successful repeal of Dade County, Florida’s new ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. After winning in Florida, Bryant then went national, and led several battles across the country against gay rights.

Not everyone is overjoyed, of course. As I noted in my Epiphany posting yesterday, where many of us see and respond to joy at rights claimed and doors opened to human fulfillment, some people of faith see something else: they respond to joy with lamentation and stepped-up bullying tactics. Where many of us see happy couples who love one another celebrating that, at long last, their lives and relationships are treated as equal by the state, Catholic poster "Michaela Valaois" sees polygamy, potheads, and HIV, instead. 

And the archbishop of the state's largest diocese, Thomas Wenski, sees an opportunity to take out his bully stick and threaten employees of Catholic institutions: as NBC Miami reports, Wenski Epiphany letter responding to the joy of many Florida citizens issued a meancing warning to Catholic workers that they can be fired if they say anything untoward about Florida's epiphanic moment on social media sites or elsewhere. As Bob Shine notes for Bondings 2.0, Wenski's bullying puts the lie to the meme shopped around by many media folks including Catholic ones that Wenski is a bishop affected by the "Francis effect" (journalists love Wenski because of his macho shtick, his Honda-riding, his participation in man-cave cigar-smoking fundraisers).

Shine writes, 

Instead of accepting that marriage equality is rapidly becoming law nationwide and focusing on important issues, Wenski is escalating the institutional church’s campaign against church workers who are LGBT or allies. This is a most tragic way to start the new year and hopefully other bishops in Florida and elsewhere will not imitate such threatening tactics. Few acts fall as far from the Gospel as intimidating the very ministers who are humbly and devotedly building up the Reign of God in our church.

And he's correct. 

(My thanks to good readers of this blog Chris Morley and Terri Hemker for providing links to the story about Wenski's shameful response to Florida's epiphanic moment.)

The graphic: the Daytona News Journal tweets a photo of the first same-sex couple to marry in Daytona Beach yesterday. Or, for "Michaela," a snapshot of polygamy, potheads, and HIV.

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