The gay schism: Tiffany Moore Russell puts pressure on county Republicans, attracts the LGBT power brigade

We've been largely remiss in our lack of reporting on the "likes-nice-things" versus "fights-for-your-rights" rift that's been working its way around gay social media – and even gay MEDIA media – over the past few months, only because gay Republicans are nothing new and self loathing can make for pretty dreary headlines. All morning, however, we've been hearing a little bit of this and a little bit of that about how candidate for Orange County Clerk of Courts – and current county commissioner – Tiffany Moore Russell has been gathering a bit of an army to make it clear that she has the support of the longtime companions living in our little burg, not (appointed) incumbent Eddie Fernandez. Fernandez made "news" recently when he announced that ALL of the clerks of courts offices in the county would accept/file the paperwork required for the countywide Domestic Partnership Registry, and, oh, did the conservative queer brigade seize on the matter. It was a huge victory, they shouted, even if you could already download and mail the forms directly from your home. Fernandez, you see, is seeking the gay vote, because those of us who live politically divisive lives are more likely to vote in them. Makes sense! Except it doesn't really, and some of the LGBT powerhouses about town aren't having it. The move by Fernandez saw the backing of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs – who spoke up at the press conference – and her assorted minions who have been having "secret meetings" with her over the summer to coax a confession of support for marriage equality out of her. We all know how that went. Those with memories also know that when the DPR first reared its equality head, Teresa tried to make it so that there was no "special treatment" for gays because she feared "legalities" and, hey, why don't you just fake marry the old woman on the corner to save her the estate drama? We cornered her personally. She clutched her pearls. It was (not) hilarious.

Anyway, the feast-of-scraps DPR isn't the only news pushing supporters for the retiring commissioner on. Apparently, Moore Russell will be discussing the county's refusal to sign onto the amicus briefs in support of gay marriage that numerous Florida counties – and the city of Orlando – already have when she takes the mic on Oct. 14 at the BCC meewting. All of this might seem odd because of the hubbub applied to the mayor's shift in indefensible opinion and the alleged support of the majority of the county dais. Why not sign the brief? The argument so far has been in tune with that of Attorney General Pam Bondi: That potato is too hot; let someone else do it.

So on Thursday night at The Mezz (100 S. Eola Drive), some of the area's most notable fighters and donors for LGBT causes will sit on the host committee for a Tiffany fundraiser, if only to make it clear that they aren't necessarily buying the middle-of-the-road pandering they perceive the Fernandez/Jacobs camp to be selling. Filmmaker Vicki Nantz – who, full disclosure, made a film about me and my partner upon his death and my estate drama – put it thusly on Facebook.


Tiffany has never wavered in her courage and conviction to advance civil rights for the LGBT community. In 2010 when County Mayor Rich Crotty was obstructing the LGBT-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance, Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell stood up to Crotty and urged him to play by the rules and get on with a vote. She then voted in favor of that ordinance even though many of her constituents in District 6 encouraged her not to. In 2011, she voted in favor of providing domestic partner benefits to county employees. And in 2012 when Mayor Teresa Jacobs was obstructing the county Domestic Partnership Registry, Tiffany Moore Russell stood up to Jacobs and urged her to end the games and allow a vote. Again, despite negative feedback from many constituents, Commissioner Moore Russell voted in favor of the Orange County DPR. Now Tiffany is proposing that Orange County Government, just like the City of Orlando, join other municipalities in support of the Florida marriage equality lawsuits by signing onto the amicus brief currently before the Court of Appeals.

Tiffany Moore Russell has always been a voice for the people in Orange County. She was one of only 2 members of the Orange County Board of Commissioners NOT charged with the unlawful deletion of public records during the 2012 “Text-Gate Scandal.” Tiffany opposed the Board’s efforts to kill the Earned Sick Time Initiative because she supports a citizen’s right to engage in the political process. And when other commissioners made proposals to block the Earned Sick Time Initiative, which would have jeopardized both existing and future LGBT rights ordinances, she passionately opposed those efforts and protected our hard-earned rights.

Mary and I are proud to support Tiffany Moore Russell for Orange County Clerk of Courts. She is an exceptional public servant who has ALWAYS supported this community when it mattered most.

Meet Tiffany at The Mezz (100 S. Eola Dr. Orlando, 32801) this Thursday, Oct. 2, 5:30-7pm

We'll leave your rhetorical barometer up to your own bad self (until we release our endorsements next month). Here's the flyer. Check out the list of supporters (which is still being updated). One of them, Tom Dyer (former Watermark publisher) actually published Teresa's big outing. Funny, that.

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