Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Antigay-rights activist seeks to ban same-sex benefits

TAMPA — Seeking to capitalize on statewide passage of a gay marriage ban, a leading antigay-rights activist is setting his sights on same-sex domestic partnership benefits.

David Caton, executive director of the Florida Family Association, says he will seek a change to the Hillsborough County Charter in 2010 to pre-emptively ban same-sex benefits for county employees.

Efforts to recruit volunteers and collect signatures from voters to get the issue on the ballot will begin early next year, he said.

In interviews with the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald on Thursday, Caton sought to frame the issue as a fiscal, as much a moral, argument.

"We're going to use the momentum from the marriage amendment to speak to the fact that most people in this state don't want a recognition of that type of relationship," Caton said. "At this time of economic stress, our government should not be providing benefits to nonemployees on the basis on their sexual relationships."

Gay-rights activists said any such effort by Caton will only galvanize an already motivated bloc of Hillsborough County voters. Those voters have shown greater evidence of organization and hustle in rallying for candidates and causes they support.

"We've got a coalition now, and we've got people who will work very, very hard to ensure he is not successful," said Sally Phillips, president of the Hillsborough County Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Allied Democratic Caucus. "He'll have a fight on his hands."

In addition to passage of Amendment 2, Caton said he probably would not be pursuing the matter at this time if not for the election of openly gay County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, who won office Nov. 4. He cited strong turnout at Beckner's swearing-in Tuesday as evidence that his supporters will press him to pursue a gay-rights agenda.

"I think the heavy turnout for his swearing-in was more than just friendship; it was a politically motivated event," Caton said.

Beckner did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Hillsborough County does not offer domestic partnership benefits to employees, although the city of Tampa does. A change to the County Charter would not affect city employees.

The city's benefits, however, also figure in Caton's strategy.

Caton said he would seek to use the political momentum of a Hillsborough charter change to influence Tampa elections for City Council and mayor in 2011. With gay marriage bans getting passed in several states, he called same-sex domestic partner benefits the next frontier in the gay-rights battle.

"Domestic partnership will be the battlefield between the pro-family agenda and the gay-radical agenda,'' Caton said. "They're saying it,'' and he and other like-minded people are prepared to respond, he said.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said Caton's efforts will not pressure the city to change its policies. A majority of City Council members have said they would not seek to end same-sex benefits.

"We are going to continue our domestic partner benefits," Iorio said. "It's the right thing to do."

Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe said Caton is seeking to address a problem that doesn't exist. In the meantime, the county is facing major challenges, he said.

"My focus is going to be 100 percent on solving some weighty issues: job creation, transportation," Sharpe said. "I'm going to spend the next two years trying to figure out how to bring people together to address quality-of-life issues."

Antigay-rights activist seeks to ban same-sex benefits 11/20/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 4:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.