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The Walton Manors, Florida City Council approved a human rights ordinance prohibiting the use of city funds and facilities to private organizations that discriminate.

Manors OKs anti-discrimination law

By GLENN JEFFERS, Sun-Sentinel
Web-posted: 11:03 p.m. Nov. 28, 2000

WILTON MANORS -- After months of revisions, debate and controversy that created both a local and national frenzy, the City Council approved a human rights ordinance prohibiting the use of city funds and facilities to private organizations that discriminate.

The ordinance did not single out the Boy Scouts of America per se for its decision to ban gays from participating in the organization. Instead, it stated any organization that discriminated based on race, color, creed, sex, religion, national origin, disability and sexual orientation would not be given funding or waiver of fees.

Cheers and applause by residents supporting the ordinance followed after the council's unanimous vote.

"It shows that the city has come a long way," Mayor John R. Fiore said.

The ordinance did include a stipulation allowing organizations a chance to petition for funding if they were rejected money. Fiore said that the clause was included in case there were mitigating circumstances.

The ordinance was born out of a request made by Vice-mayor Gary Resnick last July for a law barring groups which discriminate against gays from receiving city funds or meeting in public parks and buildings for free.

Resnick, an openly gay attorney, said he requested the ordinance at that time because of the U.S. Supreme Court's June decision to uphold the Boy Scouts national organization's rights to exclude gays under the First Amendment freedom of "expressive association."

"I think I could have had a baby easier," Resnick said of the attention the ordinance has drawn. "But I'm not sorry I brought it up. I think it's done a lot of good. The support that other cities have shown, I think that it shows it's the right thing to do."

Indeed, since Resnick proposed the ordinance, local cities and schools have shunned the organization. Fort Lauderdale followed Wilton Manors' lead in September when the city refused a $10,000 grant request from the Boy Scouts. Broward County officials then denied the organization nearly $93,000.

The Broward County School Board voted unanimously to prohibit the group from using public schools for meetings and/or to recruit new members. The Boy Scouts plan to retaliate by filing an injunction against the eviction.

One person in the audience, Mark LaFontaine, 33, of Fort Lauderdale, said he supported the ordinance despite being an Eagle Scout since 1984. The scout's South Florida Council rejected LaFontaine, who is openly gay, for a troop leader position back in September.

"It saddens me for the youth in scouting because they are innocent bystanders," LaFontaine said. "But, in scouting, I was taught that there was always consequences for their actions and the leadership has to learn that these are the consequences for their actions."

Glenn Jeffers can be reached at or 954-356-4552.

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