Adding 'gender identity' to civil rights ordinance deferred

MIAMI - People packed the Miami-Dade County Commission's chamber Monday to hear about a new ordinance that would add "gender identity" to the county's civil rights ordinance only for it to be deferred.

There is a lot of misinformation out there," said Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, who sponsored the ordinance.

A move to add "gender identity" to Miami-Dade's civil rights ordinance, which protects equal rights in employment and housing, somehow became about how those who are transgender choose which bathroom to use.

"The ordinance says nothing about bathrooms," said protestor Geneva Smith. When asked if she had read the ordinance, Smith replied, "It doesn't matter. No woman wants a man in her bathroom with our little kids and our grandparents."

"I think it's a scare tactic that has been put out there," said Edmonson.

The Christian Family Coalition has put out flyers against the ordinance. The same group fought extending civil rights protections to Miami-Dade gays and lesbians in the late 1990s.

"What we're saying is, hey, we left out some people while we were creating equality laws civil rights and civil liberties," said C.J. Ortuño from "SAVE Dade", Miami-Dade County's organization that protects people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender from discrimination.

Civil rights protections have become personal for Tobias Packer.

"I think it is necessary," said Packer. "Without those words, people like me can be turned away from a job, and it's perfectly legal. Those words protect us."

"It'll start as equality and it trickle down to restrooms and restaurants," said Pastor Ronald Johnson, who said he hadn't read the ordinance.

When protestor Lourdes Aguirre was asked if she had read the ordinance, she said, "You know what? I read the first two paragraphs and it was enough for me to cancel vacation because it slipped under us so quickly."

The ordinance will be back up for discussion in August.

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