Rights Ordinances and Anita Bryant

By the end of the 1970s, many municipalities had established ordinances banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In February 1977, the County Commission of Dade County, Florida, passed a law which banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations. Dade County resident, runner-up in the Miss America Pageant, singer, spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission, and co-host of the Orange Bowl Parade, Anita Bryant led the efforts to repeal of the law and established the Save Our Children campaign to help her do it.

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The Save Our Children campaign, was the first organized opposition to the gay liberation movement. It brought together nationalism and religion to respond to homosexuality as immoral and against God’s wishes It portrayed gay and lesbian non-discrimination legislation as an infringement on the rights of Christians. The campaign also tied opposition to non-discrimination legislation to preventing the homosexuals from recruiting children, hence the name “save our children.”

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A referendum vote, taken on June 7, 1977 repealed the law. The defeat nationally galvanized gay and lesbian people to continue the struggle for legal proctection. The victory affirmed Anita Bryant and Save Our Children to expand their anti-gay rights campaign to other cities.

On June 14, 1977, Anita Bryant had a concert at Chicago’s Medinah Temple. The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Metropolitan Chicago and the Committee for Gay Rights coordinated a protest. The protesters circled the temple, chanting “pray for Anita” and carrying signs reading “God drinks wine, not orange juice.” The rowdy but peaceful gathering lasted for three hours, with only eight arrests. With 3,000 protesters, it was the largest gay protest in Chicago and a turning point for the gay liberation movement in Chicago.

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Rights Ordinances and Anita Bryant