The fate of Miami's "gay rights" ordinance, the subject of a bitter publicity campaign that has drawn nationwide attention will be decided today, while voters in Chicago elect a successor to the late Mayor Richard J. Daley and those in New Jersey pick gubernatorial candidates.
In Miami, opponents of the ordinances, led by singer Anita Bryant, took out full-page newspaper ads saying that many parents are confused and perceive homosexuals to be gentle and non-aggressive. "The other side of the homosexual coin is a hair-raising pattern of recruitment and outright seductions and molestation . . . the ad said.
The Dade County Coalition for Human Rights countered with an ad telling voters they have "a rare oportunity to defend the Constitution and Bill of Rights."
At issue is a Jan. 28 amendment to the county's fair housing and equal employment law that bans discrimination because of "affectional or sexual preference."
Bryant's organization, called Save Our Children, won a referendum on the amendment. She and her supporters have contended that it would open the way for homosexual teachers who might abuse children.
In Chicago, Acting Mayor Michael A. Bilandic, 54, is heavily favored over Republican Alderman Dennis Block, 29, in the race to succeed Daley.
Bilandic, an alderman from Daley's ward since 1969 and acting mayor since shortly before Daley's death, has campaigned on a platform of "business as usual . . . keep Chicago strong."
As heir to Daley's organization, Democrat Bilandic has been well-financed and has been endorsed by a wide spectrum of city leaders. However, he has proved a colorless campaigner, and backers fear that a low turnout will hurt their party. The contest is for the two years that remain in Daley's term.
In New Jersey, Democratic Gov. Brendan T. Byrne, though rated low in public opinion polls, is given a chance for renomination in the face of a challenge from 10 opponents. There is no runoff in New Jersey, and with a field that large, observers feel that a candidate could win with 25 per cent of the vote, and that Byrne could put together that much with a coalition of hard-core liberals and voters in Atlantic City, who appreciate his support of casino gambling for the city.
However, Byrne's advocacy of a state income tax, first collected this year, has made him quite unpopular across most of the state. As a result, at least four of his opponents are given a chance of beating him: Congressmen James J. Florio and Robert A. Roe; former state Sen. Ralph DeRose, and Joseph Hoffman, whowas fired from Byrne's cabinet after publicly calling him "inept."
On the Republican side, where the contest is between two moderate state senators, Raymond Bateman is rated the favorite over Thomas Kean.
Byrne, meanwhile, is expressing confidence. "Everybody else says he's first in his own area, and I'm second," he said last week. "That adds up to I'm first overall."
And his opponents worry he may be right. "Head to head with Mickey Mouse, Byrne loses," said Hoffman. "But with five of us splitting the vote, he could win."