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10/9/2008

Columns > Happytown

HAPPYTOWN

 

Wingnuts, take note: We’re now a full-fledged, pinko-librul-queer-lovin’ town!

Last week, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced that the city will henceforth offer same-sex partners the benefits it awards to married couples (though not to straight unmarried couples, because they’re living in sin). And it only took our “progressive” mayor and his Democrat-dominated city council five years to do it.

The new benefits will cost the city about $37,000, an infinitesimal chunk of the $33 million it shells out each year for health care.

What’s more, hizzoner is scheduled to speak at the Oct. 12 Come Out With Pride parade and rail against Amendment 2, the “Marriage Protection Amendment” that doesn’t protect marriage because it’s already illegal for the queers to marry up in these parts. Dyer appears to have found his stones when it comes to the gays.

And speaking of the gays, commissioner Patty Sheehan is pissed that Orlando Magic owner/wingnut Rich DeVos just wrote a $100,000 check to the bigots behind Amendment 2, which would ban gay marriage even though it’s already banned. Which strikes us as a bit odd, considering that the openly gay Sheehan lobbied long and hard for the city to build DeVos his Golden Pleasure Dome™, the $450 million new arena on which the city is effectively mortgaging its future. Oh, the betrayal! Hey Patty, gullible much?

There are a million cliches that we could trot out right now – lying down with dogs, waking up with fleas, etc. –but really, how could anyone not see this coming? DeVos is just being who he is: a rich, theocratic fundie who runs a (legal) pyramid scheme called Amway, or Quixtar if you like. Our city officials, Sheehan included, couldn’t get in bed with him fast enough when he wanted that new stadium on the taxpayer dime.

So it’s a little disingenuous to be outraged now, but best of luck with that boycott.

Do you remember in the primaries when Bill Clinton was all, “Stop attacking my wife, you son of a bitch,” and Barack Obama was all, “Change hope change,” and the little soap opera went back and forth and then got super-mean after the South Carolina primary and the whole racism thing came into play?

Bygones. On Oct. 1, the Man from Hope came to Orlando to tell us how awesome Sen. Hopey is. In front of the University of Central Florida Arena, Clinton told the 4,000 or so gathered Obamanauts that the economy was in the shitter (duh) and it’s all George Bush’s fault (duh).

“This country is in a mess,” Clinton said. “Almost no new jobs, incomes declining, health-care costs doubled … this is not accidental.” Clinton blamed Bush for adding $4 trillion to the national debt and overseeing the country as 5.5 million middle-classers fell below the poverty line.

The president is such a bastard.

Because we’re good journalists, we even did some of those man-on-the-street interviews. A professor once told us that’s what reporters do.

Here’s Javier Botero, a 28-year-old Orlando resident who waited two hours in line to hear Clinton: “I’ve been out of a job for three months, and I can’t even get the Medicaid I need right now. If Clinton trusts that Obama can fix this mess, then I’m onboard too.”

Casey Holmgren, a UCF student: “We’ve been watching the market fall more and more each day. When is it going to stop? Clinton is right, where we’ve been hasn’t been working. Obama can deliver change.”

Don’t forget the hope.

It wasn’t exactly the cock-the-vote consortium that we dream of, but the Oct. 1 Human Rights Campaign forum did bring a few splashes of awkward illumination.

The Sorosis Club – love that name – hosted a bipartisan (but predominantly Democratic) panel of political types and their gay talking points. Except things didn’t go quite as expected.

After the initial “What do gay rights mean to you?” question volleyed by UCF professor Terri Fine (answer: “Everything! Are you kidding?”), the conversation swished through the mundane (Amendment 1, taxes) and stupid-spectacular (Casey Anthony, y’all!). Co-moderator Scott Harris, all cigarettes and mustache, was even put on the spot on the Anthony-circus issue, leading him to say, in a manner that does not represent his Central Florida News 13 bosses, “I’m not proud.”

After State Senate Barbie Belinda Ortiz threw in two cents about Florida’s budgeting crisis, State House incumbent Scott Randolph smacked her down with a “we don’t kick our grandmother to the curb” zinger. Ortiz, who knows very little about anything, pulled a Palin on the economic issues. “I’ve learned so much this evening,” she giggled before bowing out early.

Finally it got back to the gay, though, with the expected Amendment 2 quiz. Beefcake Republican sheriff hopeful John Tegg broke away from the others and said that he “had to support it,” even though he spent the earlier part of the evening cruising the fey crowd and introducing himself.

Godhead congressional monster Alan Grayson – a perennial Weekly favorite – remained largely quiet for most of the evening, possibly because he is so much better than everyone else and running for national office, but did perk up for a moment to invoke Satan with a “Hell, no!” on Amendment 2.

Rep. Ric Keller has made Orlando proud yet again. The right-wing lawmaker single-handedly got the folks from the Bush Legacy Bus Tour to stop by Orlando on Sept. 30.

The bus, a rolling 45-foot museum with interactive exhibits showing how eight years of conservative policies supported by Bush and his allies have weakened security abroad and undermined domestic priorities, travels to cities that are home to “Bush enablers.” That’s us!

See, Keller voted with Bush’s “worst policy failures” 82 percent of the time, says Americans for Change, the folks behind the bus, and with the conservative agenda 95 percent of the time (they’re quoting Congressional Quarterly on that figure).

Julie Blust, a spokeswoman for Americans United for Change, points out that Bush didn’t get this shitty all by himself.

“[Bush] had the help of his enablers in Congress, like Rep. Ric Keller, who led the charge for this president’s worst policy failures,” Blust says. “Keller stands with Bush on everything from supporting more tax cuts for millionaires and corporate giveaways that never manage to ‘trickle down’ to everyone else in this worsening economy, to keeping our troops struck in the crosshairs of a religious civil war in Iraq.”

Time for an intervention, people.

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