On the evening of July 22, a group of about five Christians gathered to make their opinions known to the Oakland Park City Commission. The issue that they were concerned about was what they refer to as “the re-definition of family.” Commissioner Suzanne Boisvenue had evidently done something “contrary to Christianity,” said the protesters, by suggesting that Oakland Park’s current code could be updated to be more inclusive of foster children, particularly those foster children being cared for by gay and unmarried couples.
Only one of the five protesters unveiled her prejudice before the commission and admitted that she did not like the idea of gays raising children. Marion Glasberg, a local resident, suggested that the children of gay couples would endure abuse at the hands of gay couples. She said that “gay couples have a higher incidence of domestic violence,” but did not cite any particular source for that information. She also told the commission that foster kids of unmarried persons “go through hell” and that “re-defining family was above the commission’s pay grade.”
The five fundamentalist Christians who spoke out against the possible update were spurred on by local Tea Party candidate John Labriola, but they refused to admit being aligned with any national organizations such as the National Organization for Marriage or the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).
When Mr. Labriola spoke to the commission, he made sure to plug his website, RestoreChristianAmerica.com, and encouraged everyone to visit. He was flustered, having just been confronted by 15 members of Food Not Bombs and Michael Albetta of the Dolphin Democrats, who pointed out to everyone that Mr. Labriola had previously been ousted from the Democratic Party because of his extremist views and constant support of Republican candidates over Democratic ones.
Not surprisingly, the five protesters were vastly outnumbered by gays, lesbians, and activists from the Food Not Bombs network, who provided their own unique testimonies, both to the commission and passers-by in front of Oakland Park City Hall. Local advocate Michael Rajner and state-representative candidate Barbra Stern also took the microphone and refuted the claims of the Christian activists.
“For all these concerns that I’ve heard tonight about children being raised by gay parents—49 other states support that right,” Stern said to the commission. “That issue is pending before the Florida Supreme Court, and it’s going to change very soon. Please keep in mind that there are 49 other states who apparently think that what Florida is doing is wrong. I just want to encourage the commission to keep an open mind about what a family is. A family is what you make it to be and I don’t think it can really be defined by any legal sort of definition,” said Stern to much applause.