SHAKE ON IT: Robert Danielson and Mayor Rick Kriseman outside St. Petersburg City Hall.
“I’ve been the ghostwriter at City Hall for 30 years,” says Robert Danielson, marketing director for the city of St. Petersburg. In that role, one of his duties is to write proclamations on subjects like National Drinking Water Week.
But the LGBT Pride Month proclamation, which Mayor Rick Kriseman read at a June 12 City Council meeting — that one was different.
Not only was it the longest Danielson had ever written, with 16 “whereas’s” instead of the usual five, its litany of pro-gay policies and programs represented a sea change in St. Pete city government. Among the announcements: the appointment of the city’s first-ever LGBT community liaison — a post which will be held by Danielson.
He still can’t talk about it without tearing up.
“To be recognized and to be able to stand there at City Council in front of this giant pride flag,” he says, wiping his eyes, “was a moment that I never thought I’d be able to see in my career or in St. Petersburg.”
The theme of this year’s St. Pete Pride celebrations is Global Equality, but it’s the fight for equality here in Florida — marriage equality — that will be making news in coming weeks. If the plaintiffs are successful in a major case going to court next Wednesday, LGBT couples in next year’s parade could be walking hand in hand as married people.
But not if Attorney General Pam Bondi has anything to do with it.
A total of 19 states plus the District of Columbia now allow gays to marry, and in the year since last June’s historic Supreme Court decision striking down a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, 11 more states have come into play, as federal judges declared their gay marriage bans unconstitutional. Those decisions have either been stayed or are facing appeal.