Thursday, February 22, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST February 22, 2007

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Valuing Our Families to honor activist Judy Shepard and actor Peter Paige


Contact: Mark Adler, 954-764-5150

Jim Lopresti, 954-764-5557

The fourth annual Valuing Our Families Conference, jointly presented byBroward-based social services agency SunServe and Washington, DC basedFamily Pride Coalition, has announced this year’s National Valuing OurFamilies Award winners.

Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, the young gay man brutally beatenand hung on a fence to die in sub-zero weather in Wyoming in 1998, is beinghonored for her advocacy as executive director of the Matthew ShepardFoundation. Peter Paige, who played Emmett on Showtime’s Queer as Folk isbeing recognized for his film, “Say Uncle,” which counters negativestereotypes of gay men as caretakers for children.

The awards will be presented at a special celebration on Saturday, March 24at 6:30 p.m. following the day-long conference at Sunshine Cathedral MCC,1480 SW 9th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale. Sharon Gless, spokesperson forSunServe, and a past national award winner will present both awards. Theconference sponsors will also give awards to state and local advocates whohave helped promote the value of LGBT families in South Florida, and acrossthe state.

The Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus will entertain the guests during theprogram. “Valuing Our Families is pleased to be able to bring suchinfluential cultural and political leaders to our annual conference thatcelebrates all families,” said SunServe executive director Mark Adler.

“Their presence is particularly important in a year when our community has achance to persuade Florida legislators to overturn the ban on adoption bygay men and lesbians.” [Florida is the only state that bans gays andlesbians from adopting, although it allows them to be foster parents.Florida’s legislature will probably consider new legislation this year.]

Previous national award winners have included openly gay U.S. CongressmanBarney Frank, award winning novelist Armistead Maupin, and gay activist andtelevision personality Rosie O’Donnell. The event is free and open to thepublic. Conference attendees will have reserved seats. A private receptionfor the award winners is also planned. Tickets for the reception areavailable from SunServe.

The all-day Valuing Our Families Conference features advocacy training forgay and lesbian adults, youth and their straight allies. Activities foryoung children in gay and lesbian headed households and an intergenerationalgeneral session keynoted by Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of FamilyPride Coalition round out the offerings.

On Sunday, March 25, the conference co-sponsors will hold a specialtown-hall meeting at the First Congregational Church of Fort Lauderdale at2501 NE 30th Street Fort Lauderdale, FL, to discuss the Florida adoptionban. For information, conference registration or tickets for the honoreesreception visit or call 954-764-5150.

Photos available at and A .txt version of thisrelease is available at


Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network Holds In-school Trainings
Donald Cavanaugh, 561.543.0373

Chip Arndt, PR Director
305.895.9466 x113

Miami, Florida (January 10, 2007) - GLSEN South Florida (Gay, Lesbian &Straight Education Network of South Florida) recently conducted its fifthwhole-school workshop for the 06-07 school year, training over 100 facultyand staff at Southridge Senior High School in Miami-Dade County PublicSchools (M-DCPS), the 4th largest school district in the United States.

The purpose of the training was to equip school counselors, teachers,administrators and staff with tools and techniques to ensure that allstudents, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity real orperceived, are safe in the classrooms and the school.

The workshop was facilitated by Priscilla Dames, GLSEN Safe Schools Trainerand M-DCPS Safe Schools Specialist, and Donald Cavanaugh, GLSEN SouthFlorida Assistant Director.

This is a perfect arrangement for me,” said Dames. “The GLSEN South Floridatraining and handouts are wonderful and make my job as a safe schoolspecialist so much easier and at no additional cost to the school districtbecause GLSEN South Florida is supported by grants and donations.”

“Miami-Dade Schools and Southridge High are committed to making school asafe place for all our students to learn,” said assistant principal PaulCooper, who coordinated the presentation to the faculty. “I’m sure thisinformation will be helpful for many of our staff.”

Seven students from TRUST Counselor Susan Doucha’s counseling groupaddressed the assembly and shared their experiences of being gay atSouthridge and in society at large. “What hurts is when someone makes ahateful remark in a classroom and the teacher just ignores it,” said one15-year old student. “Don’t they see what’s going on?”

"Often, until students have a forum such as this one to tell their storiesof hurt and hate to faculties, the teachers aren't aware of how damagingthese slurs and epithets are, said Robert Loupo, executive director of GLSENSouth Florida and national board certified counselor at a M-DCPS middleschool. “Many times, too, teachers want to help, but they just are not surehow to help or what to do. GLSEN South Florida gives them proven strategiesto make their classrooms and schools safer for all students. That's whythese trainings are so important."

So far this 06-07 school year, GLSEN South Florida has conducted two all-dayin-service trainings, a GSA leadership summit, a PTA presentation and apresentation to teachers studying to work with gifted students, all inMiami-Dade. In Broward, GLSEN South Florida has presented to the BrowardCounty Counselors Association and the Broward Teachers Union Civil and HumanRights Group. Additional trainings and presentations are being scheduled inMiami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.


News From The Bishop #9-

Black Gay Pride Kick Off Tomorrow/ Holla Mag. @Press

House Keepin' Notes:

We are looking forward to seeing your face in the place this weekend.The Black Gay Pride Collective has been working tirelessly and unceasinglyto promote family unity to "the family".

No longer do we have to feel underrepresented and invisible; the messageis simple, but clear- We mean for same-gender-loving African-Americans to bevisible and contributing to the spiritual, socail, ecomomic fabric of oursociaty. So we invite one and all in the spirit of community to come andjoin us for our 2007 offerings to the whole community.


B.G.P.S.F. Line-up

Thursday February 22, 2007

Meet the authors: Hallema Author of “Mass Deception”; and J. Toby McKinneyAuthor of “For The Love Of Hip-Hop” @ our "Authors Forum" and AwardCeremony- The Bayard Rustin Community Service Award recipient- CommissionerJoe Angelo

Wine & Cheese Reception
Time: 7:30PM
Location: The GLCC 1717 N. Andrews Ave
Tel #: 954-463-9005

Friday February 23, 2007

Blackout International Film Fest screening of "American blackout" @ 7:30PM
Time: 7:30
Place: ArtsServe 1350 East Sunrise Boulevard
Tel #: (954) 462-8190
$5.00 Suggested donation

Torpedo After Party To Follow ($10 in advance/$15 @ the door)
Time: 10:00 PM
Location: 2829 W. Broward Blvd.
Tel: 954/587/2500

Saturday February 24, 2007

Black Beach Party @ Haulover Beach
Time: 12:00
Location: Haulover Beach Park 10800 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach,

Sunday February 25, 2007

Praise & Worship Service 11:30
BBQ Picnic 1PM
Location: Island City Park Preserve In Wilton Manors 823 NE 28th St.
For Further info Please Call 954/775/2310

So save the dates and tell your friends that February 22nd-25th will beBlack Gay Pride South Florida.


The Independent Gay News

Paul Harris writes:

The Independent newspaper hopes to go weekly soon. To help us to do that weshall need to increase our employees including the hiring of two additionalfull and part-time sales people. Would those interested please writedirectly to me at If you have not had any experiencein newspaper advertising sales so long as you have an outgoing personalityand attention to detail it may not be an impediment to being hired. The mainthing that we are looking for is integrity and a willingness to work forSouth Florida's leading gay community newspaper.


Plan would erase tax on homesteads, hike state sales tax
By Michael C. Bender, Dara Kam
Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

TALLAHASSEE — State House Speaker Marco Rubio is expected to unveil a planthis morning to eliminate property taxes for Florida homesteads in exchangefor a sales tax increase, several lawmakers said Tuesday.

Under the plan, property taxes would still be collected on second homes andbusinesses, but House lawmakers said a cap on government revenues would rollback those taxes by 20 percent.
Voters would need to approve any change to how homestead properties aretaxed, but lawmakers could raise the sales tax and create a revenue capwithout voter approval.

Removing property taxes from houses with a homestead exemption would requirea sales tax increase of about 2.5 cents, lawmakers said. The state sales taxis currently 6 cents per dollar spent on taxable items.

"We're out of big issues, aren't we? Almost?" Rubio, R-West Miami, jokedwith lawmakers Tuesday at the end of a two-day conference on property taxesin the House. "This is one of those issues that everyone cares about."


Mayor in Broward calls property tax plan 'disastrous' for cities
By Mark Hollis and Jamie Malernee
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

February 22, 2007

House Republican legislators proposed a revolution in how Floridians taxthemselves Wednesday: an immediate, nearly 20 percent reduction in allproperty taxes this year, and the option to abolish property taxes onresidents' homesteads. The state would replace the lost revenue with an 8.5percent state sales tax, the highest in the country.

Reaction in South Florida was immediate and divided.

Some tax-burdened homeowners called the plan a wonderful idea, and criticstermed it "madness" that would punish the poor. Local elected officials saidthe proposal, which is far from assured of passage, would hobble theirmunicipalities because it would impose a ceiling on their ability to tax andspend.

"I guess we'll be taking all our garbage and sewer to the landfill in littleBaggies. And I guess we'll be going down to the well and getting somethingto drink, because I don't know who's going to pay for these services,"Deerfield Beach Mayor Al Capellini said.

If the proposal became law, Capellini said, his city's property tax revenuecould be cut in half.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,6081517,print.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Palm Beach County officials skeptical about property tax plan
By Mark Hollis and Josh Hafenbrack
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

February 22, 2007

TALLAHASSEE · A radical redesign that would abolish homestead property taxesand replace them with the nation's highest sales tax set off a battlebetween struggling homeowners and local officials who claim their ability toprovide services would be crippled.

An average homeowner would save $2,283 while counties and cities that havetaken in windfall property tax revenues in recent years would see theirrevenues slashed to 2001 levels, with adjustments for growth and inflation,and then capped. People with non-homestead properties would benefit from arollback.

"Sounds good to me," said Lawrence Morrissey, 53, of West Palm Beach, one of500 who showed up to complain about property taxes at a legislative hearingat Palm Beach Community College last week.

"That would great, oh my God. These property taxes are killing us. It'smurder."

Florida House Republican leaders on Wednesday unveiled the plan as a way toresolve a property tax crisis. The plan would ease the costs ofhomeownership but could drive a deeper financial wedge between the poor andthe wealthy across Florida.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,554572,print.story?coll=sfla-news-letters

Don't treat teachers like they're sales representatives
Steve Carruth
Oakland Park

February 22, 2007

Once again, teachers are being treated as if they are in sales and noteducation. Anyone who has read through the new Special Teachers Are Rewardedprogram should be appalled at what they are trying to cram down our throats.Only 25 percent of teachers will receive bonuses relying heavily on FloridaComprehensive Assessment Test scores (that may or may not be in theircontrol; think art class) and vague definitions of a rating called"astounding" by their administrators.

This sends a message that 75 percent of our teachers are no good and thatinstead of helping/sharing ideas teachers will be pitted against one anotherfighting over these paltry bonuses.

Teachers, like firefighters and police officers, are public servants. Whatif we told firefighters their pay would depend on how many fires they putout a week? Would any firefighter work in an area that statistically sawlittle fire but plenty of traffic accidents? What about police officers whowere only paid by the number of tickets they write a month?

Why not pay teachers more for taking on intensive classes, or for working atschools that have high turnover, or in impoverished areas? Maybe this"sales" tactic would work selling vehicles, for example, a salesperson at anauto dealer that sells no cars will not last long, but we are not talkingabout cars. Please tell your School Board members that this STAR is a blackhole.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,7434715,print.column

GOP's quick fix on property taxes a terrible idea
Howard Goodman
Palm Beach columnist

February 22, 2007

The Republican leadership in the state House has come up with a quick andeasy way to fix property taxes.

Eliminate 'em. On homesteaded properties, at least.

For other properties, cut 'em by almost 20 percent.

And try to make up for lost revenue by instituting the nation's higheststate sales tax: 8.5 percent. It's now 6 percent.

This plan from House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami, has the benefit ofsimplicity. And it would please an awful lot of homeowners who live hereyear round.

But in all other respects, it's a terrible idea.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Feb. 22, 2007

Fed chief warns of widening income gap

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's recent warning about the pernicious effects ofincome inequality should strike a chord with every resident of SouthFlorida, where the rich/poor gap becomes more evident by the day. Whilesoaring new skyscrapers with million-dollar condos dramatically transformthe skyline, workers struggle to find a decent place to live. No housing, noworkers. No workers . . . you get the picture.

No plan in sight

The growth in income inequality, Mr. Bernanke said, is a political problembecause it undermines the functioning of the economy. He is right, as thehousing deficit in South Florida illustrates. But it also is an obstacle toachieving other desireable goals. Thus, it requires a political solution.

Unfortunately, neither President Bush nor the Democratic-controlled Congressseems to have a plan to combat income inequality.

Mr. Bernanke's figures offer a stark portrait of wealth distribution. In1979, the wealthiest fifth of American households received 42 percent ofafter-tax income. In 2004, that figure rose to 50 percent, while the shareof the bottom fifth dropped to 5 percent. By 2004, the top 1 percent ofhouseholds received 14 percent of the nation's after-tax income.

As this continues, ''the public might become less willing to accept thedynamism that is so essential to economic progress,'' Mr. Bernanke added.

What that means in practical terms is that the kinds of policies the U.S.economy needs in order to compete in a global marketplace will finddwindling support unless the benefits are shared on a more-equal basis. Thisis no surprise. Workers who find it harder than ever to make ends meet arehardly likely to support free-trade policies that they blame for lost jobsin the United States.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Feb. 22, 2007

Jessie's Law having effect against sex offenders

'Jessie's Law,' named after homicide victim Jessica Lunsford, has beenpassed around the country, and is beginning to have some effect on sexoffenders in Florida.

Two years after Citrus County deputies found 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford'sbody buried in garbage bags just yards from her home, the convicted sexoffender who told police he buried her alive is going on trial in Miami.

But Lunsford's family has already attained some measure of justice.

Florida was the first state to pass a ''Jessie's Law,'' which aims to bettertrack sex offenders and keep them away from children. Twenty other stateshave followed suit in the past year.

Florida's Jessica Marie Lunsford Act, passed in May 2005, requires schooldistricts to do background checks on contractors and vendors who may come incontact with children. It also requires sex offenders to register in personevery six months with their local sheriff's office. Law enforcement agenciesaround the state have beefed up efforts to track down the ones who don't.

Lunsford's father, Mark, is credited with helping to put the legislation ona fast-track to passage.


Senate panel passes bullying bill
Named after Cape teen who killed himself

By Jason Wermers
Originally posted on February 22, 2007

An antibullying bill named after a Cape Coral teen who committed suicide hasmoved closer to becoming law.

The Florida Senate's Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday unanimously passedthe bill, tentatively called the "Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up For All StudentsAct."

Johnston, 15, killed himself in June 2005 after enduring more than two yearsof cyberbullying from a classmate.

Next up is the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has not yet set adate. But the bill's sponsor, Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, said he isconfident the bill, which died in a Senate committee last year, will becomelaw this year.

"I expect it will be smooth sailing from here," he said. "We got it starteda lot earlier. The last session, I got it started late. I'm excited aboutits passage."


The Orlando Sentinel,0,1333972,print.story?coll=orl-opinion-headlines

Florida and sustainable energy: When, not if
Alan Farago
Special to the Sentinel

February 21, 2007

How to cap emissions of carbon dioxide -- a greenhouse gas that is mostlycaused by burning oil and coal -- is at the top of public debate in Congressand throughout the nation.

According to the non-profit Center for Climate Strategies, 22 states havedeveloped plans to combat climate change.

But not yet Florida.

That will change, too, but there will first have to be some dead reckoning.

As one of the nation's fastest-growing states and politically mostimportant, the soul and fiber of Florida's state and local governments arewedded to growth, including growth in the generation of electricity, thelargest source of climate changing emissions.


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