On Monday, I wrote how much I like the America I'm living in right now. Diverse. Culturally rich. Increasingly humane.
I still feel that way. But in Hillsborough County, Florida, where I was born and have come back to live? Not so much.
Today the County Commission rejected by a vote of 4-3 a proposal that has faced little to no opposition in other local Florida jurisdictions -- to establish a Domestic Partnership Registry so that committed couples who are prevented from marriage -- either by economic necessity or by law -- could register at least the fact of their partnership in order to be guaranteed a half-dozen or so basic human rights.
My home county has a cancer in it. It's not the oddballs, the queers, the elderly couples who fear losing their Social Security benefits if they were to remarry. The cancer is a tiny minority of zealots who believe their personal religion justifies denying the equal benefit and protection of the law to people whose "lifestyles" they don't agree with. The vast majority of people who came to speak today favored the proposal. (Thank you!! You were eloquent!!) But the four commissioners who created sham objections in order to justify their votes are still in too much thrall to that narrow-minded minority, who insist that their personal views must govern us all.
I tell you this: All fair-minded people -- including seniors; LGBT citizens; our straight families, friends and allies; Equality Florida; and all the differently affiliated people who came to speak today -- We Will Work Diligently until every resident of Hillsborough County has equal protection under the law, as well as basic personal security in their pursuit of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
-- Jim Harper