A cruel reality of news is that it's more likely to take place under the glare of fluorescent light bulbs than under perfect afternoon skies. This was the case yesterday, when a horde of gay folks and their supporters, all wearing red, were corralled into a large, but not exceedingly depressing, employee break room at the Orange County Administration building. The gay groupuscule was there to supervise the County Commission's vote on an ordinance
which would give legal teeth to the idea that it isn't cool to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. But the commission was running late and the county's receptionists had to stem the alarming spread of gay in the lobby by quarantining it in a white-tiled area near the vending machines.
Randy Stephens of The Center practiced his ordinance endorsement speech with us while we languished in the queer quarantine. “With the exception of one person – me – you could be fired from your job [in Orange County] because of your sexual identity,” said Stephens, revealing a linguistic genius unbeknownst to us before. Knowing our laziness, he gave us not only had a pre-ordinance comment, but a post-ordinance comment as well!
Stephens continued on his cerebral tear with an onslaught of statistics. 83,659 people in Orange County identify as LGBT. 83 percent of Fortune 500 companies already have anti-discrimination policies in place; but only 15 percent of business in Orange County is conducted by Fortune 500 companies, so that would still leave 73,243 LGBT people in Orange County vulnerable to unpunishable discrimination. (Okay, so we did that last part.)
But that would only be true for the next 3,971 seconds. The ordinance sailed through the commission with nary a scratch, a far cry from the fire-and-brimstone-tinged cameos of John Butler Book
and the marathon 16 hour session it took to get the same gay-friendly laws on the city’s books. Beholding the tranquil county chamber filled with red shirts and warm feelings, Orlando’s senior anarchist Ben Markeson gave us a hint of his whispered Thanksgiving prayer: “Don’t let ‘em fool you--there are
some progressive aspects to Central Florida.”