Then, two weeks ago, Bryant, 40, shocked friends and foes alike by declaring her own marriage to manager-husband Bob Green "irretrievably broken." Just a month short of their 20th anniversary, she filed for divorce, cryptically charging Green with "cooperating with certain hired members of the [Ministries] staff who conspired to control me and use my name and reputation to build their own careers." Though Ministries sources hinted that power plays and financial questions spurred Anita's action, the marriage had apparently been shaky before. Bryant herself acknowledges that they had "sought different kinds of counseling."
In her suit, Anita sought half their property, including their spectacular 25-room mansion overlooking Biscayne Bay; custody of their four children, now 10 to 16; plus child support on the grounds that she was "without sufficient funds."
Green, 48, the ex-disc jockey who had shrewdly guided the Miss America runner-up into a half-million-a-year star, admitted recently that Bryant's anti-gay crusade had cost her thousands in bookings and left her career "shattered." As for their marriage, Green appealed to Anita to reconsider in an open letter released to the press. "Let us both put aside all other earthly considerations," he wrote, "and reunite in Christian love."
But for Anita, who simultaneously resigned as head of the Bryant Ministries, there was no looking back. "Divorce is against everything I believe in. I wanted to save my marriage, but I decided that was not the route to go."
After launching her holy war on gays, Anita Bryant last year expanded her mission. Her rapidly growing Anita Bryant Ministries provided not only deprogramming and halfway houses for homosexuals but also nonprofit family-counseling clinics in the Miami area. She planned to go nationwide, with family-help seminars titled "Design for Successful Living." Beyond homosexuality, Bryant saw a "deeper problem" that all America must have assumed she could know only from a distance: "the deterioration of the family."