Gainesville Conservatives Lose Battle Over Gender-Identity Ordinance

by | Mar 26, 2009 | Charisma Archive

Restroom SignMarch 25, 2009 — An amendment that supporters said would have kept men from using women’s restrooms failed to pass during a stand-alone election in Gainesville, Fla., on Tuesday.

Part of a campaign organized by Citizens for Good Public Policy (CGPP) in Gainesville, Charter Amendment 1 would have overturned a 2008 anti-discrimination ordinance that included special provisions for transgendered people. The law defines gender identity as “an inner sense of being a specific gender … with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.” And it requires that transgendered people be given access to public facilities that are consistent with their gender identity, even if it is different from their biological sex.

Opponents of the ordinance said the wording is too vague and allows non-transgendered men—including sex offenders—to legally enter women’s restrooms.

“Who is the one who’s going to determine what someone’s inner sense of being is?” CGPP chairman Mark Minck said. “Who can know?”

Amendment 1, which gained 42 percent of the vote on Tuesday, would have made Gainesville’s civil rights law the same as the Florida’s Civil Rights Act, repealing not only the transgender ordinance but also civil rights protections for gay, lesbian and bisexual people the city commission passed in 1998.

Minck said the Thomas Moore Law Center, a Christian legal group, told his organization the ballot initiative would be the most effective way to fight the transgender ordinance. But he said repealing the city’s 1998 civil rights law took the focus off the so-called bathroom clause and led amendment opponents, including well-funded national groups such as Human Rights Campaign, to accuse CGPP of supporting discrimination.

Minck said a lobbying group called Equality Is Gainesville’s Business, and leaders within the City Commission, Chamber of Commerce and the University of Florida all rallied to oppose the amendment.

“They were effectively able to frame this as a discrimination effort,” Minck said. “And people bought the lie, and more voted no than yes. So what happened is the ordinance is unchanged. Our concern is the same.”

Ordinance supporters say cities that have passed similar gender-identity laws have not encountered problems with abuse. But Minck said he has heard of numerous cases of men entering women’s restrooms and store managers not knowing how to respond.

“We weren’t concerned that a transgendered person was going to go into a bathroom and hurt a little girl,” Minck said. “But we knew that there were 263 registered sex offenders, and that was just the ones that were registered.

“We know there are bad guys out there and peeping toms and perverts and weirdos and people who look for opportunities to do strange things, and we felt like having public policy that basically lowers the bar on who could go into what restroom was a step in the wrong direction, was placing the needs and wants of the transgendered community that you could count on two sets of hands above the needs of safety and privacy of the tens of thousands of women and young girls that live in our community.”

A similar ordinance was passed statewide in Colorado, and John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, believes the issue has significant implications for other communities that are considering laws granting special rights based on sexual behavior. “To think that a law was passed which allows any man (including pedophiles and other sexual predators) to use a women’s restroom based upon a subjective ‘inner sense of identity’ is utter madness,” he said in an urgent appeal before the election.

“I promise you if this nonsense is not defeated in Gainesville now it will be coming to a city council in your Florida neighborhood. Sexual rights activists from all over the state have physically relocated to Gainesville to fight against our friends in this battle.”

Minck said his group isn’t sure what they will do next. But he believes city officials such as Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan and Commissioner Craig Lowe, who voted to support the ordinance last year, have a responsibility to address the concerns of the 8,375 voters who supported the amendment.

“We’re kind of in a staring contest because we’d like [the city commission to] address it and acknowledge that they over-reached and go back and re-address this one part and then we’ll be fine with it,” Minck said.

Bill DeConna, pastor of Victory Church of Gainesville, believes amendment supporters will either sue to have the commission address the ambiguity in the law, or introduce a second ballot initiative. “I would have loved for it to have won, but I’m not that discouraged,” he said “I’m not going to sit back. … We’ve gotten too many reports of abuses of this ordinance already. “

He sees the battle in Gainesville as part of a bigger conflict. “I see it as an attack by the devil to destroy everything that represents God,” he said. “To destroy the family, destroy marriage, destroy people’s identity as a man or a woman made in the image of God. I think it’s part of a bigger plan. If we don’t fight it, this thing just keeps eroding.”


Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


Charisma Highlights: Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven?

Charisma Highlights: Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven?

Following are snippets of the top stories posted on over the past week. We encourage you to visit the links to read the stories in full. Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven? Is it possible that behind the pearly gates of heaven there are...

10 Ways to Practice Gratitude With Your family This Thanksgiving

10 Ways to Practice Gratitude With Your family This Thanksgiving

This month we are entering a season which, in the United States, has been devoted to gratitude and thanksgiving for 400 years! While the Thanksgiving holiday has had a long and varied history within the United States, the practice of devoting sacrificial offerings,...

Don’t Let Ungratefulness Turn You Into a Spoiled American

Don’t Let Ungratefulness Turn You Into a Spoiled American

My frequent trips to developing nations always help me adjust my attitude. Just when I start to feel spoiled and entitled, I meet people from places like Congo, India and Honduras—and I realize just how blessed I am. This happened to me again last week during a trip...

The Power of Being Thankful

The Power of Being Thankful

One of the best ways to show God we love Him is to be thankful. When we express our deep gratitude to Him, it actually invites His presence onto our lives. Being thankful also neutralizes the enemy and brings victory into our situations no matter what the outcome....

Get Off Your Pew!

Get Off Your Pew!

As God’s clock inches closer to the final hour before His return, many people find themselves filled with angst, anxiety and despair. People are not sleeping well, many have fallen into depression and are feeling hopeless. These are the very days that we have been...

The Great Commission Can Set Us Free from Responsibility

The Great Commission Can Set Us Free from Responsibility

Read Time: 4 Minutes 28 Seconds While all of the stories we read in the Torah are meaningful, sometimes the events we read about can seem to hold more relevance, especially for those of us who are followers of Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah. One such event is the calling...


The Church’s Role in Preserving Freedom of Speech in America

Read Time: 3 Minutes 17 Seconds The controversy surrounding Kyrie Irving and his post of a tweet that claims the Jews in Israel are not the real Jews—that Black Africans are the real Jews—raises...
Count Your Blessings, For God Indeed is Good

Count Your Blessings, For God Indeed is Good

Read Time: 4 Minutes 42 Seconds Thanksgiving Day is just a few days away for U.S. Americans. It is a favorite holiday—perhaps only exceeded by Christmas—to gather with family and friends to watch parades, play (American) “football” and eat delicious food—often from...

Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven?

Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven? Read Time: 3 Minutes, 10 Seconds Is it possible that behind the pearly gates of heaven there are murderers, pedophiles and cannibals walking along the streets of gold? We are taught in the book of Romans, "That if...

Pin It on Pinterest