Human rights law has its foes story, March 14
Ordinance should protect us all
A human rights ordinance, or HRO, will be a good thing for Pinellas County. A key, though, in a good, working HRO is inclusion of the terms "gender identity" and "gender expression."
Most discrimination in housing and employment aimed at the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender population is based on appearance. All too often, men that appear as female or women that present as male are targeted for discrimination. This is why our transgender citizens, especially, are in need of this law.
As for David Caton's opposing civil rights for LGBT citizens, he has made a business of fighting civil rights for Florida's LGBT citizens since 1991. In reality, his Web site and organization (the Florida Family Association) are a strong reason why this county and state need a strong human rights ordinance to protect our LGBT citizens from discrimination.
Caton and his association's mission are to make a "moral environment" for all Florida. The monthly newsletter on their Web site makes it very clear that there is no room for LGBT citizens in their "moral environment."
Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Seel suggests the county commissioners should do nothing until the state or federal legislators do something. History has proven that no civil rights movement has started at the state or federal level. The civil rights movement and the women's suffrage movement were grass roots movements in cities, towns and counties. The county commissioners can all just resign if all they want to do is wait to see if the state or federal legislators are going to write laws and regulations.
County Commissioner Susan Latvala is doing the right thing by bringing this ordinance forward. Three years ago, when I was the executive director of the Florida Gender Equality Project (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit), I contacted the County Commission about the possibility of a human rights ordinance. At that time, it appeared there were not enough county commissioners that would support it.
The majority of Pinellas County voters will respect the courageous act of passing this law. The minority of those seeking a "moral environment" will not be enough to vote out anyone. I believe the current County Commission is a strong, progressive commission that will do the right thing.
Yes, I am a part of the transgender community and I also am a proud disabled Vietnam veteran.
Janice Josephine Carney, Seminole
Halfway house doesn't belong
Does anyone care about our retirees who came to Pinellas County to live out their lives in peace or our tourists who play on our beaches and spend their money in beautiful Pinellas County?
Will they still come to visit and spend their money in the very center of our county and stay in the many hotels, RV parks, apartments and mobile homes, or purchase a home, when they learn of the plans of the state Department of Corrections and Goodwill Industries to convert an old motel owned by the Church of Scientology at U.S. 19 and East Bay Drive into a halfway facility for 300 male prison inmates?
This is a good program to help inmates back into society and needs to be done, but why would you put a facility that will release 300 inmates every day into an area that has no industrial base to provide jobs, only low-paying service jobs that cater to the same people who may no longer come here?
The Department of Corrections and Goodwill Industries have both said how safe this facility will be and how it will not be a problem to the nearby residents or businesses. They have not said anything about property values falling like a rock, which has already began.
Maybe the county commissioners would like to take a moment to consider the impact this facility might have being located in this high tourist and retired resident area of the county. Should this property even be zoned for such a use?
Dennis Gross, Clearwater