Saturday, March 17, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST March 17, 2007

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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 Orlando Sentinel,0,7345042,print.story?coll=orl-news-headlines-state

Gay adoption back on agenda

Lawmakers who want to repeal Florida's ban say people need to 'wake up.'
Anthony Man
Tallahassee Bureau

March 15, 2007

TALLAHASSEE -- Thousands of Florida children could have vastly better lives,advocates said Wednesday, if the state repeals its 30-year-old ban on gaysadopting.

A coalition of state legislators, mostly Democrats from Broward and PalmBeach counties, wants to eliminate what they said was a relic of formerbeauty queen and orange-juice pitchwoman Anita Bryant's anti-gay crusade ofthe 1970s.

"It is the most sweeping anti-gay parenting law in the country, something ofwhich we should not be proud in the state of Florida," said state Sen. NanRich, D-Weston. "The law is devoid of any basis in social science andcontradicts public policy on child welfare. It denies children and adultsconstitutional rights and jeopardizes, most importantly, the best interestsof children."

Lifting the ban would allow gay men and lesbians to become adoptive parentsof some of the 3,919 foster children who were available for adoption inFlorida at the end of last month, Rich said.

State Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, said she hopes her colleagues "wakeup" and realize it is 2007, not the Bryant era.


We need your help for PrideFest of the Palm Beaches 2007

The Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus will be participating in the 14th annualPrideFest of the Palm Beaches, March 24 & 25 at Bryant Park in Lake Worth.

The Caucus will have an information booth at the festival both days and willbe participating in the Grand Parade on Sunday.

We need volunteers to help with the booth on both days and would like asmany as possible to join us in the Grand Parade. We will have a decked-outtruck in the parade for those who are unable to walk the route.

We must staff the booth between 12 noon and 8 pm on Saturday and between 12noon and 6 pm on Sunday.

Kick-off for the parade is 12 noon on Sunday. You should be there for theparade no later than 11:30 am. We will need people to staff the booth fromnoon on Sunday who do not wish to participate in the parade.

If you can give us an hour or two on either day it would greatly help oureffort. Visit the PrideFest website for more information.
Tickets are $6.

If you can help, please drop Kevin Muth an email at
See you at PrideFest.




"Dog Day in the Park"
Sunday, March 18, 2007

Judging will be in the following categories:
· Best Pedigree
· Most Marvelous Mutt
· Most Talented Trickster
· Ugliest Mug
· Dog Most Resembling its Owner

The winner of each category will go on to the final competition for theGrand Prize - "Best of Show"

Registration is FREE To register call 954 237-1769


From Leanna Bradley

Hello to one and all

It has come to my attention that there is a great need for GLBT doctor andmedical clinics that will accept all including transgender people who arein transition.

I am in the process of obtaining any information so as those in need willhave a resource list to call

If any one has any information as to contacts or referrals to the medicalcommunity PLEASE contact me at my NEW e-mail address
954-462-2004 ext 201


The Sun-Sentinel,0,2123033,print.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Palm Beach County schools chief asks parents to help halt cyber-bullying

By Marc Freeman

March 16, 2007, 1:28 PM EDT

WEST PALM BEACH -- Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Art Johnson onFriday appealed to parents to help stop cyber-bullying, which he termed a"dangerous situation" that can lead to violence against children.

Using a mass-calling system to send a recorded message, Johnson cited an NBCNews report that found 90 percent of middle school students are bullied ine-mails, cell phone text messages and at popular online networking sites.

The school district's Public Affairs Web site,,includes a link to the NBC video.

"Parents, we must act or the cyber bullying will get worse," Johnson said inhis call out, asking for immediate help. "We must stop it from hurting ourchildren and disrupting their education when they bring these issues toschool."

The warning to parents comes two days after Johnson and the School Boardagreed to seek a change in state law that will allow the school district toimpose a cell phone ban on students while they are on campus. The proposedcell phone restriction is a way to quash cyber-bullying, officials say.


The Miami Herald

'Hanging' Dixie's banner

An unusual display of the Confederate flag in a Tallahassee museum revivesan old Florida debate.

Bob Hurst walked into a Tallahassee art museum this week and saw the symbolof his Southern heritage hanging by a noose.

The art work, which has led to a standoff between descendants of Confederatesoldiers and the museum, is a life-size gallows with the Confederate flagdangling from a frayed rope. Created by a black artist from Detroit andtitled The Proper Way to Hang a Confederate Flag, the piece has brought anold debate to Florida anew.

Hurst and his compatriots at the Sons of Confederate Veterans want theexhibit taken down, and they've invoked a 1961 Florida law to support them.

''I didn't find it clever. I didn't find it amusing. I found it offensive. Ifound it tasteless,'' said Hurst, whose great-great-grandfather led acompany for the Confederacy and committed suicide after the South'ssurrender.

The leaders of the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science decided this weekthey'll put up with the backlash for the sake of freedom of speech andpolitical dialogue. Since then, executive director Chucha Barber said, shehas received at least a dozen threatening phone calls and contacted thepolice. She said she was blindsided by the negative response.

''Frankly, Tallahassee is a very academic community, filled with manyenlightened people,'' she said. ``It's not this institution's position tout forth an ideology or a political viewpoint. It's not our way or thehighway. It is our hope that we stimulate dialogue.''


The Palm Beach Post

School vouchers lose champions with Bush's exit
By S.V Date

Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau

Saturday, March 17, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - A year ago: After a state Supreme Court ruling struck downschool vouchers, Republican leaders moved heaven and earth in an attempt torevive them with a constitutional amendment, all to please a governor whoconsidered them his personal legacy.

Today: "Vouchers?" said Senate Majority Leader Daniel Webster. "Don't know."

Without the strong personality of former Gov. Jeb Bush pushing a particularpolicy in the Capitol, "school choice," as proponents call it, is generatingmuch less enthusiasm this year than it has in the previous eight.

A handful of pro-voucher bills have been filed in both chambers, but nothingas sweeping as Bush's proposal - ultimately unsuccessful - to insert wordinginto the state constitution specifically permitting the spending of publicmoney at private schools.

The Florida Supreme Court in January 2006 struck down Bush's first voucherplan, the Opportunity Scholarship Program. When he pushed the idea throughthe legislature during his first months in office in 1999, it became thefirst statewide voucher plan in the country and gave parents of students atfailing public schools state money to send their children to privateschools, including religious schools.


Florida Today

March 17, 2007
House committee passes property-tax bill

Vote follows six hours of exasperated testimony
By Aaron Deslatte

A divided Florida House committee advanced a controversial plan Friday toslash nearly $6 billion in property tax revenue from the budgets of localgovernments.

The 24-7 vote by the House Policy and Budget Council came after six hours oftestimony from exasperated property owners who want relief and city andcounty officials afraid of the price tag.

''You all spend everything you get,'' said Bob Hampton, a Panhandle realestate guide owner who said he heard every day about the souring propertymarket.

''You need to roll back the ... taxes.''

The bill would roll back local property tax rates for cities, counties andsome special taxing districts to an inflation-adjusted 2000 level, whichlawmakers claim will save the average homeowner 19 percent on their taxbill.


Citizens To Reduce Premiums

Published: Mar 17, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will reduce premiums on its1.2 million customers - on average, 14.5 percent for high-risk policyholders and 6.7 percent for others.

Most Hillsborough County homeowners who are outside the highest risk areaswill see reductions of about 4.5 percent.

"We are working very hard to provide rate relief to our policyholders assoon as possible," said Paul Palumbo, senior vice president of underwriting.

Citizens' announcement of rate reductions comes a day after private insurersfiled their proposals for cutting homeowners insurance rates.

The top five private companies in the Tampa Bay area proposed statewideaverage decreases of 3.1 percent to 14.2 percent. At the same time, somealso have announced thousands of cancellations.


Join us for a town hall meeting on this pressing topic currently beingdebated in the Florida legislature:


Sunday, March 25, 1:30 - 3:00

"Our Families, Our Future: A Town Hall for Floridians"

First Congregational Church
2501 NE 30th St., Fort Lauderdale
(Near the Target at Oakland Park Blvd. & Federal Hwy.)


For full article and contact information for Palm Beach townhall meetingemail


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