Anti-gay Activists Disrupt Orlando Town Hall Meeting on Gay Marriage

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Two anti-LGBT activists disrupted a marriage equality town hall meeting on March 27 at The GLBT Center Orlando (The Center), shouting that the crowd was going to hell for condoning homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

Almost 100 people mostly decked out in red in support of marriage equality attended the event, a panel discussion on the ongoing Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) same-sex marriage court cases under review by the United States Supreme Court.

Deland resident Charles Norris and his twin brother’s anti-LGBT remarks quickly escalated into a shouting match with other town hall attendees.

“Not only is homosexuality absurd but to even speak of homosexual marriage is not only absurd, it’s all are going to go to hell if you do not change,” Norris said.

He and his brother were then asked to leave and eventually stormed out of the town hall.

Reactions to Norris’ comments ranged from anger to dismissal and even gratitude.

“We recognize the Norris twins from previous events that they have attended,” said Randy Stephens, The Center’s Executive Director and the town hall moderator. “I was not going to deny them the right to ...To be quite honest, I’ve always enjoyed when they have spoken at the County and City commissions because it makes us look so much more sane.”

Stephens said that the twins are on the fringe and that public opinion now supports marriage equality.

Orlando attorney and LGBT activist Mary Meeks represented the Orlando Anti-Discrimination Ordinance (OADO) committee on the town hall’s panel.

“I think people like ...are the last dinosaurs clinging to their tired old prejudices,” Meeks said. “I think they only represent a small segment of society, and they are freaking out because they see that they are losing and that equality is on the way.”

Meeks was joined at the town hall by panelists Michael Farmer, Equality Florida Statewide Field Director, John Ruffier, Human Rights Campaign Foundation Board Member, and Daniel Tilley, ACLU of Florida LGBT Advocate.

Meeks said that the legal outcomes of both marriage equality cases could go in many different directions. A sweeping ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide is thought to be possible but Tilley said that it is unlikely.

From our media partners WatermarkDavid Thomas Moran