Despite the rain this past weekend, our city enjoyed a successful Stonewall Pride Street Festival & Parade.
Many thousands of visitors joined our residents in celebrating this critically important marker of LGBTQ civil rights history. Just as the parade was about to begin, rain gave way to beautiful rainbows – a sign from the universe that we must march on despite the anti-LGBTQ legislation we are being subjected to in Florida.
I had the distinct honor of riding with Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis (see photo) during the parade, driven by my partner Roger Posey. I dressed in drag – not because I love wearing heels or blonde wigs (I don’t!), but in an effort to test the constitutionality of Gov. Ron DeSantis' misguided Anti-Drag law. The law contains a provision for recalling elected officials, and I viewed potentially being recall from my position as Commissioner as the shortest path to the court system so this law can be tested by an objective judicial process. The inspiration for this act of resistance came from the recent legal victory in Tennessee, where a similar law was struck down by the courts. By challenging DeSantis directly, I aimed to bring attention to the discriminatory nature of this legislation and pave the way for its ultimate downfall.
It is notable (and frustrating!) that Governor DeSantis has not initiated a recall process against me. I firmly believe this is because he is aware of the law's inherent unenforceability and the embarrassment that would follow a defeat in court as he pursues his Presidential aspirations. While his inaction may be seen as a small victory for the LGBTQ community, it is crucial that we continue our fight against this regressive legislation. The very existence of the law, untested yet by the courts, is used as a political weapon to push our community and our culture back into the closet for fear of persecution.
The Anti-Drag law not only threatens the vibrant spirit of self-expression that defines our diverse community but also undermines the principles of equality and freedom that our nation stands for. It is incumbent upon us, as elected officials and engaged citizens, to challenge unjust laws and protect the rights of all individuals. The process works: here in Florida, a Federal judge recently blocked Florida’s ban of gender-affirming care.
Though Pride is now behind us, much work is clearly still in front of us. There are a number of bills that attack our trans community and youth that we must now amplify our efforts on. Let us join our voices, engage in constructive dialogue, and work towards legal avenues that will definitely strike down all the recently passed Anti-LGBTQ legislation.
Together, we can foster an environment that celebrates diversity, respects individuality, and ensures equal rights for every member of our community. It is through our collective strength and unwavering resolve that we will create a society where justice and inclusivity prevail.
- Chris Caputo, Wilton Manors Commissioner