Thursday, August 13, 2009

Anita Bryant and the Save Our Children Campaign

The Religious Right has been on the attack against gay people for a long time. Many younger gay and lesbian people are not aware of where all of this hatred started. Believe it or not, it wasn’t always like this. The Religious Right and the gay population used to live side-by-side in a “cold war” like atmosphere. They didn’t like us, but rarely ever bothered us, except for a few outbursts at gay pride celebrations. The crusade of the Religious Right to stomp out gay culture everywhere, began with a little lady named Anita Bryant.

Anita Bryant was a singer. A woman with a slightly religious background who ended up being the spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission. She was also a mother and starred in various ad campaigns for other labels, such as Coca Cola, Tupperware, and Kraft Foods.

In 1977, Dade County Florida tried to pass an ordinance that would forbid discrimination, due to sexual orientation. Anita was outraged at this. She said that homosexuals could not reproduce on their own and therefore were trying to push their “lifestyle” as an acceptable alternative to recruit children for their ranks. So she started a campaign called “Save Our Children” to rally support to stop the ordinance from passing. She teamed up with the likes of Jerry Falwell to organize a rebellion against gay rights, which were sweeping across the nation at the time.

“As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children, therefore, they must recruit our children’

“If gays are granted rights, next we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with Saint Bernards and to nail biters.”

In June of 1977, Anita Bryant’s campaign was successful and the ordinance was repealed by a margin of 69 to 31 percent.

Gays and lesbians became outraged. They organized boycotts against the Florida Citrus Commission and encouraged others to stop buying Florida orange juice and other products. Many gay bars took “screwdrivers” off of their drink menus and replaced them with a drink called “Anita Bryant” which replaced orange juice with apple juice. Proceeds from these drink sales, went to fight the Save Our Children campaign.

After the repeal of the ordinance in Florida, Anita took her campaign to other states across the nation. Her success allowed her to try to pass the Briggs Initiative in California, which called for the immediate dismissal of any school employee who even spoke of homosexuality or homosexuals in a positive or neutral light. Thanks to many liberal organizations the Democratic Party openly opposed the legislation and the initiative suffered heavy losses during the election.

Eventually, thanks to the efforts of gays and lesbians, to boycott the Florida Citrus Commission, Anita Bryant’s contract was not renewed as spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission. As a result of her political views, she became too controversial and her singing career suffered. She ended her marriage with her husband and took on a new one, who tried to reestablish her singing career, but to no avail. She and her second husband filed for bankruptcy in 1997 and again in 2001.

Although she has apologized for her role in the Miami Dade incident and has taken a “live and let live” approach to gays and lesbians, many people still consider her to be the spokesperson for hate and discrimination in the gay community.

The importance of Anita Bryant in gay and lesbian history, is that it was the first time in America, that religious zealots took an open opposition to the Gay Rights Movement. All of the open hatred you see towards gay people by the religious zealots today, can be traced directly back to the Save Our Children Campaign. The Religious Rights sees the passing of any pro-gay laws, as a direct attack on their religious beliefs.

Know Your Own History!


  1. “As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children, therefore, they must recruit our children’

    SERIOUSLY? I actually laughed out loud at this. Recruit our children??? Ignorance is bliss, I guess...and she must have been one happy M.F.-er.

  2. Strangely and sadly, this is not an uncommon statement, even to this day.

  3. The religiouse right didn't need to bother gays much prior to 1977 because they had no rights and the vast majority were closeted. The change in this situation was wha brought out the Anita Bryant's

  4. Each and every day Anita Bryant takes a step closer to hell from whence she came.

  5. There is enough hate coming from anti-gay people, replying with even more hate is wrong!

    Simply put, as Stephanie already said: Ignorance is a Bliss. That's it!

  6. She actually want all that happy.

  7. hey! I'm from germany and i am writing a written communication (if you call it like that, too) about the gay-movement and the rights and so on.
    i have some questions and the intention, that you could answer them ;)
    is there any way to get in contact? :)
    lg :)

  8. She's an idiot. bedroom lifestyles should NEVER be debatable. If two men love eachother or two women love eachother then how the HELL does that effect your DAILY LIFE ROUTINE. mind your own business and let these children sitting in foster homes have a chance to have a family. every family has a mother and a father. so what the hell is the difference in having two moms or two dads? people like her disgust me. mind your own god damn business and let people love whomever they want, age, race, sexual orientation, anything!!

    1. I agree 100% I am as LESBIAN as they come and for them to say "It affects our daily life!" or even "My child is going to turn out gay because she saw you kissing." I mean SERIOUSLY! Do you see me every minute of everyday for me to completely affect your daily life? I will never understand why the hell they hate us

  9. Man has this country changed:(

  10. It doesn't matter if its right or wrong. People should just mind and keep their business to themselves. If your straight I dont wanna hear about it and if your gay I don't wanna hear about it. Unless I personally ask who or what gets this persons rocks off. It doesn't need to b said or mentioned.

  11. What was most reprehensible at the time, in 1977, was the shear ignorance, paranoia, hysteria and homophobia towards homosexuals in those dark days. Gay men and lesbians were largely invisible back then and had no power or visibility like today. Every gay person I know had heterosexual parents....straights create homosexuals because it is simply a natural part of human sexuality. Recruit ? How brainless and paranoid a statement is that ? All that religiously-fueled hate and condemnation is just what mobilized gays to start fighting back and to stand-up and finally be counted !

  12. This thread is timely given the outcome of the election. The evangelicals are energized once again. History always repeats itself through apathy and ignorance of the masses. So let's all take this opportunity to get to know our fellow bigots and haters, as they have the potential to once again change the course of our lives.

    It was 40 years ago this week- January 26th, 1977 to be exact, that Anita Bryant launched her Save Our Children campaign in Miami-Dade county. She had the public backing of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jesse Helms, among other players in the Religious Right movement to come. Anita's campaign proved that instilling fear in the mind of the average voter can ensure substantial turnout in elections. Perhaps Donald Trump was aware of this history when he chose his running mate, who energized the evangelical voters enough to sway the outcome of the election.

    Anita may be languishing in obscurity now, but others have taken her place on the national stage, sadly. The current trend is using "religious freedom" to justify restricting the civil rights of any who do not conform to their own ideals. Is it 1977 all over again? Looks that way to me.

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  14. WHAT IS WRONG WITH BEING GAY??!! Animals have been doing it since the beginning of time. Are we not animals?

    As for it being a sin, how do you Know? It was God who did the bible, but it was man who published it. Man is known to make mistakes. How do you know man didn't sneak that in because he himself detested being gay?

    As long as people pay their taxes, obey the laws, and don't harm anyone, that's all that matters. As long as they're adults, why the heck should we care what they do in their bedroom?


    And if you're wondering I'm not gay, but many of my co-workers are, and so is my nephew. Thanks to today's laws, a few are happily married. I hope my nephew finds himself his right partner and marries one day. Everyone deserves that, even if they are gay!


    1. There is nothing wrong with being gay! I am a lesbian and it hurts me to hear me and my girlfriend being denied service and SPIT ON for kissing and loving each other. LOVE IS LOVE! if 2 men truely love each other and 2 women truely love each other or even 2 genderless/non-bianary truely love each other! People need to stop hurting others based off of who they love. God said, "Love your neighbor as yourself" SO LOVE EVERYONE EQUALLY!!!!! If you are a christian and you hate us then you are going against your own fucking releigion

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  16. I Remember this "Drunk On Jesus" witch quite well ! Professing to be deeply religious and protecting children;her "Save Our Children" campaign of 1977,along with her husband, Bob Green, claimed homosexuals were out to molest and recruit minors. They attempted to smoke-out known or suspected gay men, expose them as perverts and pedophiles and ruin their lives.They fought to repeal a Mimai-Dade in Florida ordinance protecting homosexuals from discrimination in housing, employment and hate crimes. They wanted all suspected gays banned from teaching in the public and private schools and professed their God given right to "burn the schools down,rather than have known homosexuals teaching their children."Their campaign sparked the modern gay rights push for full equality, not merely tolerance.These two wretched and evil monsters were the Devil personified and have gone down in history as the epitome of how religiously-fueled ignorance and hate is so very dangerous and can never be tolerated !