Sunday, July 29, 2007

GLBT DIGEST July 29, 2007

One on One with Mayor James Naugle at Congressman Hastings' "Reclaiming our Community: Combating HIV/AIDS in our Backyard"

Michael Emanuel Rajner
National Secretary – Campaign to End AIDS

FORT LAUDERDALE - At yesterday’s Reclaiming our Community: Combating HIV/AIDS in our Backyard in Fort Lauderdale hosted by Congressman Alcee Hastings, many in the community turned out to share in an amazing event – an event that can only be considered a success.

At the town hall forum, many affected and infected with HIV shared stories of their diagnosis, homelessness, barriers to access care and treatment, substance abuse, incarceration and stories of school systems being the conduit of poor and inaccurate sexual education. C2EA Youth Action Institute participants Quintara Lane (Miami/Dade County) and Danielle Bowman (Palm Beach County) shared with Congressman Hastings how some schools are telling student’s that condoms are ineffective in preventing the spread of HIV and STD’s. While they shared their experiences, Congressman Hastings, his staffand health department officials looked on in horror. One extremely compassionate Congressional staffer gasped as her hand pressed hard against her chest.

The need for immediate enactment of Senator Frank Lautenberg's and Representative Barbara Lee's Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act US.368/HR.2553) was proven yesterday. We need proven science-based prevention education – no more money for Abstinence-only programs!

As AIDS activist, we struggle knowing our job is never done. As we continue to peel back the layers and sink our teeth deeper into the issues we know we can never stop. The fight is often a difficult and emotional journey. However, yesterday’s town hall was a clear sign from an awesome and greater power that change is occurring. In the auditorium of the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center we were in the company of amazing political will to end AIDS. In attendance were openly HIV+ Mayor Larry Gierer of Oakland Park and Commissioner Suzanne Boisvenue who serve as champions in the fight. Also in attendance to learn more about the hometown epidemic were Fort Lauderdale’s Mayor James Naugle and Commissioner Christine Teel and Broward County Sheriff Ken Jeene.

Earlier this week I invited Mayor Naugle to attend this forum to encourage him to be properly educated on the true faces and issues of HIV/AIDS and the stigmatizing and crippling factors associated with HIV/AIDS. While the Mayor remains at odds with the gay community for contributing to the driving forces that stigmatize marginalized and vulnerable populations, Mayor Naugle and Commissioner Teel listen to the stories of heterosexuals that have been truggling to live happy, healthy and successful lives despite the condemnation of disgraceful religious leaders such as the irreverent O’NealDozier of Pompano Beach, FL that use the Bible as a weapon instead of a source of wisdom and empowerment.

After the forum, I had the opportunity to speak one on one with Mayor Naugle and share my personal story of living with HIV/AIDS for 12 years. At the same time I stressed the issues raised in the town hall and the need to commit a greater amount of funding for resources to help those less privileged. While in dialogue, the Mayor did seem to understand that we need to work harder to expand work force programs and increase funding for vocational training.

While I remain outraged for the homophobic, classist, racist remarks espoused by Mayor Naugle over the years, I must remain hopeful, and as taught in the school of social work, to believe that everyone has potentials and the need to start to work with an individual from the place where they are at. This is clearly a personal struggle to harness the emotionally pain and trust and have the faith that we as leaders in the community can serve as effective facilitators for greater change.

Admittedly, I have a long history of being extremely critical of local AIDS service organizations. Yesterday's partnership between organizations such as shadowood II and Broward House stepping up to the plate and contributed to the success of the event when Broward House availed use of their passenger van to ensure that dozens of persons living with AIDS, battling substance abuse and homelessness were able to meet Congressman Hastings and share their stories. Working with the residents of Shadowood II and Broward House has been the most humbling experience to listen to their stories and witness their success.

While non-profits are continually struggling to identify funding for direct client services, we must continue to encourage and teach organizations to commit their resources to empower persons living with HIV/AIDS to participate in opportunities to learn to advocate for their own needs.

Many thanks to the community, Congressman Hastings, his staff, Shadowood II, Broward House, the Broward County Health Department, Broward County officials, elected and non-elected that helped prove that change is possible and in our future.


Ft. Lauderdale
Human Rights Campaign

As you know we are having a Transgender Town Hall on Friday August 3rd but I wanted to make sure you were aware of our Club Blue event at Hi Life Cafe on Thursday 6-7:30PM. Tracee McDaniel the moderator of the Town Hall and Executive director and founder of Juxtaposed Center for Transformation will be our special guest! It would be a great opportunity to speak with Tracee about the challenges she is dealing with Transgender equality in Atlanta. If you can make the event it would be great!


From Robin Bodiford, P.A.

Dear Community Members:

Prior to 1995, gays and lesbians in Broward County had no legal rights, at all. We were afraid to identify ourselves as gay at work, when applying to buy a home, or condo: it took real nerve to check into a hotel and ask for one king size bed. We were afraid because we could lawfully be excluded from places of public accomdations, denied housing, and fired for no reason other than our sexual orientation.

Many of us remember vividly how it was, and how happy we were when we passed the amendment adding protections for gays and lesbians to the Broward County Human Rights Oridinance. And, in 1999, we passed the Domestic Partnership rdinance, allowing us to register as domestic partners. The rest is history: an openly gay mayor of Wilton Manors, an openly gay Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner and now, an openly gay County Commissioner; gay open air cafes like Rosie's, the New Moon and Georgie's, guys and girls walking hand in hand down Wilton Drive. No more hiding behind windowless walls like Chardees with parking and entrance in the back. We have arrived in Broward County.

But, wait....

Now, a handful of GLBT activists, only some actually living in Broward (and none of whom worked with us in the past campaigns) are in the process of risking the entire GLBT community's rights to protection in employment, housing and places of public accomodation line with a proposed amendment to add transgender as a protected category, which may go before the Broward County Commission Agenda in early September.

Based on prior experience, we expect an immediate effort to repeal all of our hard won rights. If passed now, our rights will go before the voters on the 2008 ballot. A disaster in an election year, for many reasons, not the least of which there have been no preparations to fight a campaign of this kind on short notice.

The proponents of this ill concieved plan are completely unwilling to agree to postpone the commission vote until May, 2008, and thereby avoid a vote before 2010. If we do not act now, all of our hard won rights may be lost. This group has moved forward behind all of our backs, with no outreach to Broward's GLBT community (other than the small insider circle of gay politicos). Contrary to the mistruths that have been circulated, no one is uestioning whether gender identity should be protected. We are only urging a strategic change in timing to avoid the 2008 ballot.

Please join us on Wednesday, August 1st, at the meeting at the GLCC (at 7 p.m. at the Ft. Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Community Center, 1717 N. Andrews Ave., 1 mile south of Oakland Park Boulevard) to discuss the issue, and learn what all of us, acting together, can do to forstall this pending disaster.

warm regards,


Law Offices of Robin L. Bodiford, P.A.
2550 North Federal Highway, Ste 20
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305
(954) 630-2707


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