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Organization chastises Crist for 'radical homosexual agenda'

Tallahassee Democrat, November 17, 2006

TALLAHASSEE -- An organization fighting what it calls a "radical homosexual agenda" is trying to put pressure on the Florida Senate for rejection of an item on the proposed questionnaire for Gov.-elect Charlie Crist's top appointees.

The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee staff was directed, after the past legislative session, to revise the executive check list used in Senate confirmation of department heads, board members and other major nominees chosen by the governor. The more-detailed survey, if approved by Senate President Ken Pruitt, would ask applicants if they have ever been accused of several forms of "workplace misconduct" -- including sexual harassment or job discrimination based on race, age, gender or sexual orientation.

The Florida Family Association has often fought pornography and city or county ordinances extending civil rights protections to gays. After a Tallahassee Democrat news report last weekend about several changes in the Senate questionnaire, the association this week flashed an alert to its members -- urging them to bombard Pruitt with protests.

"Did the Republicans learn anything from this past election about the consequences of turning their backs on the conservative base?" David Caton, the association's executive director, asked in the message. "Based on this new pro-homosexual proposal, they have not."

The group's message included a sample e-mail that members could send to Pruitt, stating, "Creating criteria that allows candidates for employment to be excluded from working in the governor's administration because homosexual extremists filed a complaint against them is insulting to social conservatives."

In addition to questions about whether appointees have been arrested for drunken driving or other criminal offenses, or have been subject to civil fines or restrictive orders by a court, the new questionnaire asks if they have ever been accused of "sexual harassment or discrimination based on color, race, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, family status, marital status or sexual orientation."

The association's message says that "sexual orientation" is not included in Florida civil-rights laws. The association contends that newly elected state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, would be ineligible for an executive appointment under such criteria because, as a Hillsborough County Commissioner, she opposed a gay-themed display in public libraries and was sued over the issue.

"If you are a devout Christian who has ever opposed the radical homosexual agenda, you need not apply for a job with the administration of the new Florida governor," Caton wrote.

The questionnaire does not disqualify appointees or applicants, but asks them to explain if they have ever been convicted of a serious offense or have been accused of harassment or involved in a civil suit either as a plaintiff or defendant. Traffic fines below $250 do not have to be listed on the questionnaire.

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