Miami-Dade pushes competing bills for 'in God we trust' & transgender rights

by Will Hall |

MIAMI (Christian Examiner) – A committee of Miami-Dade County commissioners voted to install "In God We Trust" as a wall display behind the dais, Nov. 13, the day after another committee pushed through legislation which would grant special rights to transsexuals regarding public accommodation.

The motto move appears to be political muscle flexing in advance of the commission hearing in full session the motion to allow persons with transgender identities open access to public facilities. The language does not specify bathrooms, shower facilities and locker rooms, unlike similar measures by other cities. But the bill does align with the coordinated LGBT national movement to let transgenders use any public space even if designated to afford separation for privacy reasons based on physical differences between men and women, boys and girls.

The motto bill, which will put the U.S. and Florida official value statement in full view behind the seats of the 13-member political body, was co-sponsored by Commissioners Jose "Pepe" Diaz and Esteban Bovo, Jr., and approved unanimously by the economic development committee, with only one member, Barbara Jordan, among five voicing any negative comments.

The transsexual rights bill was assiged to the public safety and animal services committee. The move by Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa raised suspicions because the bill had been considered before by, and failed to get the support of, the 5-member health and social services committee of which Diaz is a member, according to the Miami Herald

Adding to the political drama, Bovo was the lone dissenter among the four members of the public safety and animal services committee.

Complicating the politics of the two issues is the cross-sponsoring by one member.

Diaz and Bovo were joined by Juan Zapata, Lynda Bell, Audrey Edmonson and Javier Souto as sponsors of the motto bill. But, Edmondson also joined Barbara Jordan, Dennis Moss, Sally Heyman and Bruno Barreiro to support the transgender rights proposal.

Sosa is perceived to favor the provisions for transsexuals. So Councilmen Jean Monestime and Xavier Suarez look to hold the swing votes. Suarez is a Republican and Monestime is a businessman and member of the NAACP.

On top of these unknowns, the regularly scheduled meeting set for Nov. 18 has been canceled, but the carry-over session on the calendar for Nov. 20 has not. Still, the next likely opportunity to consider either measure might be Nov. 24 when a new chair and vice-chair will be installed as well as newly elected and re-elected commissioners. Democrat Daniella Levina Cava recently defeated Republican Lynda Bell and will be replacing her on the commission.

The Board of County Commissioners is the governing body of unincorporated Miami-Dade County, which includes more than one million people. This makes it bigger in population than Florida's largest city, Jacksonville with 822,000 residents. Miami is home to 419,000 people.

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