Religious themes also figured prominently in Anita Bryant’s rhetoric. “This is not my battle,” she said. “It’s God’s battle.”
Fear mongering aside, Bryant could also exhibit a sense of humor about the crusade; one quip—”If homosexuality were the normal way, God would have made Adam and Bruce”—was an oft-repeated crowd pleaser.
At the Miami Beach Convention Center, televangelist Rev. Jerry Falwell told a crowd of almost 10,000 believers that “so-called gay folks [would] just as soon kill you as look at you.”
In addition to Falwell, the Save Our Children crusade against gay rights brought people like the Revs. Louis Sheldon, Jim Bakker and Pat Robertson, and Senator Jesse Helms and Phyllis Schlafly into the public arena as opponents of gay rights, a role they have filled up to this day.
Bryant’s Christian emphasis did not stop her from aggressively pursuing Miami’s substantial and generally liberal Jewish vote. A preliminary poll showed Jews favoring the ordinance by a large margin, so a coalition of antigay Orthodox rabbis was assembled. They condemned the measure: “Jewish law prohibits parents from allowing their children to be taught by people who are sexually perverted… What right is there to corrupt our children.” GO TO PANEL 12