Pride Month: Nadine Smith
“The attacks on access to abortion and birth control are driven overwhelmingly by the same people who deny the rights of the LGBT community. They believe their doctrine and ideology, not our own, should control our bodies and our sexuality at all times. There can be no freedom without sovereignty over our own person.”
The fight for LGBT rights hasn’t been limited to rights to marriage, but also the right to family—a battle Nadine Smith has fought for since she began her activism. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, she withdrew from the Air Force after the passage of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a law passed in 1993 to prevent officers in the armed forces from asking or telling each other about their sexual identities. In 1986, she served on the founding board of the International Gay and Lesbian Organization. Smith was part of the first meeting between the president of the United States and LGBT organizations when she met with then-incumbent President Bill Clinton in 1993. She also coordinated the 1993 March on Washington as a co-chair. Two years later, she was the campaign manager on a successful effort to prevent a repeal of Tampa’s ordinance protecting human rights, including sexual orientation. In 1997, Equality Florida was founded and since then, Smith has served as the Executive Director, lobbying legislature for equal rights for LGBT individuals and advocating for anti-hate crimes and anti-bullying legislation. Equality Florida, along with Smith, has heavily influenced lawmaking in Florida, including statewide anti-bullying laws which have prompted school districts to include sexual orientation and gender identity within their harassment policies. From 2006 onward, Equality Florida and Nadine Smith brought attention to Florida’s adoption policies, which prevented LGBT individuals from adopting children. The ban was overturned, however clear discriminatory policies have still been in place, costing prospective LGBT parents thousands of dollars more in fees to adopt children. Smith continues her fight and currently serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Florida Advisory Committee along with her work as the CEO of Equality Florida.