Monday, March 12, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST March 12, 2007

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ArtExplosion Finale

A night of Gay Comedy with Marga Gomez, Greg Walloch and Madame w/ Joe Kovacs at the Broward Center. Great seats are still available for this Saturday night. Have you bought yours yet?

"The lethally raucous show left much of the audience aghast and the rest holding their sides as they roared with laughter …[Madame] makes Mae West look like Mother Theresa." – John Hoglund,

click here to buy tickets now:

Don't miss these great events this week at ArtExplosion 2007

Silent Gay Films from 1914 - -
one filmed in Ft. Lauderdale...tonight at Cinema Paradiso.ArtsUnited Members get tickets at the FLIFF discount of $5. Show your card at the door!

John Waters Retrospective - -
with Misty Eyes, Tuesday at Cinema Paradiso.Dress in drag and get in free. ArtsUnited members get in for $5.

Open Mic Night at Georgies Alibi Wednesday night at 9:30
Win a paid gig at Georgie Alibi in St. Pete. Free! Come see great local talent!

Alison Bechdel - - in person at Broward Main Library Wednesday night.
Author of Fun Home and Dykes to Watch Out For. Free

Gay and Lesbian Shorts - - at Cinema Paradiso, Wednesday and Thursday.

ArtsUnited Members get in for $5. Show your card at the door.

For more information on ArtExplosion 2007 events visit


Ft. Lauderdale

Fourth Annual Valuing Our Families Conference

Gay Families Conference to honor activist Judy Shepard and actor Peter Paige

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, left top, mother of Matthew Shepard, the young gay manbrutally beaten and hung on a fence to die in sub-zero weather in Wyoming in1998, is being honored for her advocacy as executive director of the MatthewShepard Foundation. Peter Paige, left bottom, who played Emmett onShowtime's Queer as Folk is being recognized for his film, "Say Uncle," which countersnegative stereotypes 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 for SunServe, and a past national award winnerwill present both awards. The conference sponsors will also give awards tostate and local advocates who have helped promote the value of LGBT familiesin South Florida, and across the state. The Fort Lauderdale Gay Men'sChorus will entertain the guests during the program.

"Valuing Our Families is pleased to be able to bring such influentialcultural and political leaders to our annual conference that celebrates allfamilies," said SunServe executive director Mark Adler. "Their presence isparticularly important in a year when our community has a chance to persuadeFlorida legislators to overturn the ban on adoption by gay men and lesbians." [Florida is the only state that bans gays and lesbians fromadopting, although it allows them to be foster parents. Florida'slegislature 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 the public. Conference attendees will havereserved seats. A private reception for the award winners is also planned.Tickets for the reception are available 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


The Miami Herald

Posted on Mon, Mar. 12, 2007

Playhouse's 'La Cage' a pleasure-filled experience

Some Broadway musicals grow dated, some get done to death, some still worklike a charm after their creators have been collecting royalties for years.For a terrific example from the still-beguiling category, check out thesplendid new production of La Cage aux Folles at Actors' Playhouse.

Its focal gay couple, longtime partners Georges (a rich-voiced JerryGulledge) and the flamboyant Albin (Gary Marachek, using every comedic anddramatic weapon in his well-stocked arsenal), are characters you'vedoubtless encountered before. La Cage, after all, has been done as a play, amovie, this Tony Award-winning musical and yet another movie; obviously,this flashy-tender-farcical story works.

Thanks to Harvey Fierstein's sharp script and Jerry Herman's gorgeous score,which is dotted with gems like Song on the Sand, The Best of Times and thedefiant-proud I Am What I Am, the musical offers both sheer pleasure anddeep emotional resonance. And under the expert guidance of director DavidArisco, the Actors' Playhouse production delivers both.

Everything about this latest jaunt to St. Tropez, to the drag-show nightclubwhere Albin steals the spotlight and the laughs as a dumpy ''diva'' calledZaza, is first-rate.

The cast is great, full of both South Florida veterans and strong newcomers.Standouts include Euriamis Losada as Georges' son Jean-Michel, the result ofan isolated heterosexual fling; Marcus Davis as Jacob, the butler and chorusgirl wannabe; Shain Stroff as tart-tongued chorus gal Mercedes; and PeterHaig and Angie Radosh as the religious-conservative parents of Jean-Michel'sfiancé. Chrissi Ardito's choreography, delivered with energetic panache bythe chorus ''girls'' (actually eight guys and two gals, all gowned andbewigged), is top notch. Michael Amico's sets are simple yet lavishlyevocative. Though it would have been great had Actors' been able to afford asmall orchestra, musical director Eric Alsford and six other musicians findthe emotional coloring in the music. Patrick Tennent's lighting, LaneStarratt's sound and the huge array of outfits from Costume WorldTheatrical: all wonderful.

But the very best of times at La Cage comes from the funny, sweet interplayof Gulledge and Marachek, who duet like a dream. Each moment of Marachek'sperformance, which encompasses everything from zaniness to heartbreak, feelsreal and right. And so do the show's timeless messages of tolerance, loyaltyand love.


Pay 'anti-murder' tab
Monday, March 12, 2007

For the Legislature, the easy part was passing the "Anti-Murder Bill." Thehard part will be making sure that the legislation works.

The bill went through the Senate and House last week without one dissentingvote or even a discouraging word. No surprise there. Opposing it would haveallowed a future opponent to tag an incumbent as "pro-murder." And theintent is good. Under the legislation, which Gov. Crist will sign, mostcriminals who violate probation must go before a judge, who will determinewhether they go back to jail or prison.

Coincidentally, last week also featured the conviction of John Evander Coueyfor killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford north of St. Petersburg in March2005. Such high-profile killings spurred then-Attorney General Crist andlegislators to examine how the state treats violations by the 150,000 peoplewho are on state probation. In February 2004, 11-year-old Carlie Brucia wasmurdered in Sarasota by a man who had been released after violatingprobation.

No one would argue with the need to protect the public. More at issue is howmuch it will cost and who will pay. Enforcing the law to the max will meanmore people in county jails, more judges and more people in state prison. ASenate analysis concludes that the cost to local government could be"significant," just as local government faces a possible cut in tax revenueordered by the Legislature. Finally, under Gov. Bush, the state cut backdrastically on the number of probation officers.

Gov. Crist says he put $21 million in his budget to cover first-year costsand will commit $250 million over the first five years. He also notes thatword of the law might result in fewer probation violations. No one reallyknows, however, what the impact will be. If Tallahassee is sincere about the"Anti-Murder Bill," Tallahassee will pay for it.


Florida Today

March 12, 2007
Our view: Dump this bill
Measure that would hide the realities of war is no way to honor militaryheroes

How crazy are things in Tallahassee?

This crazy: A bill working its way through the Legislature could makebracelets engraved with the names of fallen American soldiers unlawful.

It could also mean news organizations like FLORIDA TODAY couldn't publishthe names of military men and women, or their pictures.

Including the one we published a week ago of uniformed airmen clapping asmembers of Patrick Air Force Base's 920th Rescue Wing headed for combat inAfghanistan.

Worse, candid pictures of fighting could be cut if this bill gets passed.

Which it most assuredly shouldn't.


First Amendment-rights group wary of privacy bills
By Michael C. Bender

Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau

Monday, March 12, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - An effort in the state Capitol to protect Floridians againstthe increasing threat of identify theft could also cut off public access toreal estate, criminal and government personnel records, according to a FirstAmendment advocacy group.

"These bills do more than just target identity theft," said Florida FirstAmendment Foundation Director Adria Harper. "They create a vacuum of publicrecords."

Lawmakers, however, said they are looking out for vulnerable residents.

"My bill in its present form has invited a discussion and that's theobjective," said Rep. Bill Proctor, a St. Augustine Republican sponsoring abill (HB 1213) the First Amendment Foundation tagged as "one of the worstbills ever."

The bill requires that personal identification information should alwaysremain private, even when collected legally.


Few fault their care at local VA center
By Antigone Barton

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Monday, March 12, 2007

RIVIERA BEACH - While massive failures in the care of wounded soldiers atWashington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center drew national attention, themyriad concerns of local veterans have been Charleen Szabo's focus.

The director of the Department of Veterans Affairs' palatial pink buildingon North Military Trail north of Blue Heron Boulevard had been on the jobless than four months when news of the nightmarish conditions at thenation's largest military medical center broke in February, promptingveterans and their families across the country to question the servicesavailable to them.

They have little to worry about here as the VA Medical Center continues tofine-tune its response to frustrations facing veterans, including persistentsnags in telephone service, Szabo says. Both of her parents were veterans,and she has worked in veterans medical settings for the past 33 years.

"We're in an excellent position to take care of all of the needs of ourveterans," she said last week.

Szabo's confidence is affirmed in part by advocates who have criticized thequality of veterans care, both locally and nationally. In the wake of theWalter Reed scandal, they say they have received fewer complaints about thelocal center, which serves veterans from the Treasure Coast to Boca Raton,than about other hospitals.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,7553149,print.story

Strip mall to make way for project

Empty Manors storefronts to be demolished soon

By Elizabeth Baier
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 11, 2007

Wilton Manors - The pastel-colored paint has chipped. The "Mov `N Sale"signs have faded. And the doors have been boarded up for more than a year.

The empty strip mall that once housed familiar small-town shops such as CJ'sComics and Collectibles, About Town Lock & Safe and Marsupium Inc. soon willbe demolished to make room for new condos, townhouses and shops, joiningscores of other projects that have transformed this city of 13,000 frommodest to modern in recent years.

Dubbed Wilton Park, the 6-acre parcel will become home to a massive,19,000-square-foot development, in what officials anticipate will grow to bethe heart of the Island City. It's situated at the northeast corner ofWilton Drive and Northeast 21st Court, just north of the future City Hallcomplex, which also is in design stages.

Wilton Park will include 73 three-story townhouses, 72 lofts, a pool forcity residents and ground-floor businesses facing Wilton Drive. The unitswould be priced starting in the low $200,000s, according to Jeff Costello,director of planning for New Urban Communities, the project's developer.

"It's going to tremendously improve Wilton Drive," Commissioner CraigSherritt said at the meeting. "I'm very, very excited."


The Sun-Sentinel,0,2691959,print.story?coll=sfla-news-broward

Six honored in Broward for promoting women's rights

By Jamie Malernee
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 12, 2007

When Broward Circuit Judge Susan Lebow graduated from law school, she wasone of only a few women in her class. When she applied for a job at theBroward County Public Defender's Office, she couldn't even get an interviewbecause "women are too delicate to go into the jails," she recalled Sunday.

Fast forward several decades, to Lebow attending her daughter's law schoolgraduation ceremony. A majority of that class was women. And today thedaughter, Jessica Weinberg, works in the very public defender's office thatrejected the mother.

It was with this dramatic change in mind that Lebow, 59, and five otherwomen were inducted into the Broward County Women's Hall of Fame on Sunday.The event honored their efforts to promote women's rights and equality.

The other inductees were: Mary Capobianco, CEO of Planned Parenthood ofSouth Palm Beach & Broward Counties; Maggie Davidson, president of theDemocratic Women's Club of NE Broward; Bertha Watson Henry, deputy countyadministrator; Phyllis Finney Loconto, executive producer of CountyLineTelevision Programs; and Carol Smith, a longtime activist with the BrowardCounty League of Women Voters.

Lebow is a founding member of the Broward County Women's Lawyers Associationand an early member of Women's Advocacy-Majority/Minority, an organizationthat helps women re-enter the workforce after traumatic events such asdivorce or the death of a loved one. She said she was grateful for thehonor, but more grateful to have witnessed the progress evident at herdaughter's graduation from the University of Miami School of Law.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,1866466,print.story?coll=sfla-news-florida

Bill would lengthen prison sentences for sexual predators to 15 years

By Stephen Majors
The Associated Press

March 12, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - During a month of online conversations with a 12-year-oldgirl, the middle-aged man asks personal questions and coaxes her intofeeling comfortable with him.

He arranges to meet her in a mall parking lot for sex. But when the mandrives up, police pounce -- the 12-year-old girl was actually a lawenforcement agent.

To some, it might seem like a crime worthy of a decade or more in prison.However, Florida law specifies a predator who travels to meet a minor forsex should be charged -- if no contact occurs -- with online solicitation, athird-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

"We don't have any greater punishment for that, and that's not very much ofa comfort," said Attorney General Bill McCollum.

The Legislature is considering a bill, backed by McCollum, to make travelingto meet a minor for sex a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 yearsin prison. The bill also would increase penalties for the possession anddistribution of child pornography.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,5113387,print.story?coll=sfla-news-broward

Broward candidates make last-ditch appeals before Tuesday vote

By Jennifer Gollan
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 12, 2007

With thousands of voters headed to the polls Tuesday, candidates wagingpitched battles for municipal seats from Hillsboro Beach to Davie are makingfinal appeals for support.

Perhaps the most highly charged race is in Sunrise, where two of threecandidates appear headed for a postelection legal tussle. Irwin Harlem, 79,a commissioner since 1993, faces two challengers: Roger Wishner, a Sunrisecommissioner from 1987 to 1999 and a state representative from 2000 to 2004,and James DePelisi, a political upstart who lost the 2005 election toCommissioner Don Rosen.

In a Jan. 29 letter intended to shore up support, DePelisi implored 1,200fellow Catholics to vote for "one of our own." Wishner, who, like Harlem, isJewish, castigated the letter as anti-Jewish. Commissioner Sheila Alu calledit anti-Semitic.

DePelisi, 40, last month slapped Wishner and Alu with a defamation lawsuit,claiming their published comments "falsely label [him] as anti-Semiticand/or anti-Jewish in a heavily Jewish community."

"It is getting very intense," Wishner, 49, said as he knocked on doorsWednesday.


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