The petition drive went from zero to sixty in no time flat. Repeal petitions had been prepared two weeks before the commission’s vote in favor of gay rights. At a meeting to organize the repeal effort, Anita Bryant’s husband suggested that the fledging organization call itself, “Save Our Children.” Bryant urged Dade voters to “help repeal Metro’s gay blunder.” The group’s canvassing, largely carried out by women from more than twenty churches, yielded 64,000 signatures, far more than the 10,000 required to get the ordinance on the ballot.
The potential cost of the referendum now became a contentious issue. The Miami Herald, which had previously supported efforts on behalf of nondiscrimination, announced editorially that “gay rights is not a $400,000 issue.”
Only one commissioner was persuaded to change his vote and the commission decided in a 5 to 4 vote that the referendum would be held June 7, 1977.
The battle lines were clear:
Amendment sponsor Ruth Shack said, “It breaks
my heart that we are sending people to the polls
to decide whether or not we will discriminate
against a segment of the community.” Bryant
vowed, “Before I yield to this insidious attack on
God and his laws…I will lead a crusade to stop it as
this country has never seen before.”