In this last installment of Local 10 News’ Pride Month series, we highlight a man who led the charge to protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing and the workplace in Miami-Dade.
“I was fired from my job is what ended up happening,” Jorge Mursuli says. “Nobody really knows this.”
It’s something he kept to himself as he got to work on a greater cause.
In 1998, Mursuli lead the charge to convince the Miami-Dade County Commission that LGBT people should be protected from discrimination in housing and the workplace.
“We were literally using the exact same anti-discrimination clause, and all we were doing was plugging in sexual orientation,” he says. “That’s it.”
But it was an uphill battle going back some two decades, when singer and conservative activist Anita Bryant propelled the so-called moral majority, branding gay people in the worst of ways.
And it stuck, even through the 90s.
“They did quite often say things like, you know, the equation of a gay person to a pedophile, the equation of a gay person to absurd sexual behavior,” Mursuli says. “And I’m saying it nicely. In public meetings.”
Mursuli led Safeguarding American Values for Everyone, or SAVE, to rally support from outside the LGBT community.
“We built a field operation unlike any other that was around at the time, literally knocking on doors ... telling them that we were there supporting gay rights,” he recalls. “That was the first time that I had ever seen or heard anybody that went up to a door and used the word gay”
Their message was so basic.
“Why would you disqualify somebody on something that has nothing to do with their job?” Mursuli says.
Victory finally came in December 1998 — by just one vote.
“Democracy and protection and equality and all of those things are only as good as the people at the table,” Mursuli says. “They’re only as good as your ability and your desire to keep watch over it.”