Saturday, October 13, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST October 12, 2007

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Fort Lauderdale: Latino AIDS awareness Is focus of program
October 12, 2007

The Broward County Health Department will host an education and preventionoutreach event at 10 p.m. today for National Latino AIDS Awareness Day.

Members of various community groups, including FUSION, Mpowerment Project,the Gay and Lesbian Community Center and Care Resources, will distributefree condoms at STEEL nightclub, 1951 NW Ninth Ave.

Free HIV testing and counseling with bilingual counselors will also beavailable at various sites throughout the community from Monday to Oct. 19.

For more information, call 954-762-3639.


Gambling interests donate $844,000 to GOP legislators

By Aaron Deslatte
Tallahassee Bureau
October 12, 2007


With a Seminole Tribe gambling expansion hanging over the Legislature, othercasinos, pari-mutuel race tracks and gambling interests have poured $844,000during the past three months into the party coffers of Republicanlegislators.

The take - roughly $1 of every $5 the state Republican party raised betweenJuly and September - comes as Gov. Charlie Crist tries to finalize a compactwith the Seminoles that would let them install such table games as blackjackand craps that are not permitted at other Florida casinos.

House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, has been the fiercest critic ofallowing gambling expansion. But while Republicans in Rubio's campfrequently rail against the industry, they've also been quick to take itsmoney.

The top three party contributors in the July-September quarter were the PalmBeach Kennel Club in West Palm Beach at $165,000, Jacksonville greyhoundtrack at $137,000 and Mardi Gras Gaming at the Hollywood Greyhound Track at$120,000, according to reports filed with the state's Division of Elections.

"It just shows you the power of the party in power," said Senate DemocraticLeader Steve Geller of Cooper City, whose political committee received$10,000 from the Palm Beach Kennel Club.

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Hit-And-Run Victim Targeted For Being Gay

31-Year-Old Remains In ICU Three Weeks Later
POSTED: 11:29 am EDT October 10, 2007

MIAMI -- Family and friends of a man who remains hospitalized in criticalcondition three weeks after being the victim of a hit-and-run believe he wastargeted because he was gay.

Tommy Davis, 31, has been hooked up to a ventilator in the ICU at BrowardGeneral Medical Center since Sept. 18. He has a lacerated liver, broken leg,bruised kidney and, perhaps most devastating, a head injury.

"He's a wonderful kid with a bright future," said his mother, Sue Davis, whohas been by his bedside every day since he was admitted. "You know, I justdon't understand."

Marcus Hopkins thinks he does. He was there that night outside Ramrod, apopular bar primarily for gay men where Davis works as a bartender.

It was shortly after 10 p.m. Sept. 18 when Davis was crossing NortheastFourth Avenue to return to work. Hopkins said Davis got halfway into theright lane when Davis, he and another friend heard an engine rev.

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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of South Florida(GLCC) proudly announces a celebration of "YOU!" honoring all volunteers,both past and present, with a fantastic event in your honor. Theappreciation event will be held at the beautiful home of GLCC Founder CircleMember, Michael Trost on Wednesday, October 24th from 6-8 pm. The event hasbeen aptly named "YOU!" to recognize and thank each and every one of theseremarkable people who contribute so much.

"The GLCC is grateful beyond words for all of our volunteers, from our Boardof Directors and HIV testing program volunteers, to over 40 volunteers thatstaff our switchboard - we simply could not operate without YOU," reportedNicole Martin, Operations Manager, GLCC. "At the national equivalent rate ofpay for volunteers of $18.77 per hour, our volunteer program is valued atover $500,000 annually. This is a very significant donation of time fromeach and every one of YOU!," adds Martin.

All About Food Catering has graciously donated a fantastic buffet, andCrown Wine & Spirits, along with Boardwalk Bar, will generously be providingliquor and other beverages with a complimentary bar. "It is promised to bea night filled with good people, fun, and is a cherished opportunity foryour GLCC to thank "YOU!", our volunteers, and the community" shares PaulHyman, Executive Director, GLCC.

Volunteers and their guests, Board members past and present, and our friendsat the press are invited to attend. We ask that everyone RSVP by October22nd to or 954-463-9005.

For more information about volunteering at the GLCC please visit our websiteat


Palm Beach County health district to add domestic partner benefits

By Patty Pensa
October 11, 2007

It's an issue that splits public governing boards: domestic partnerbenefits.

On Wednesday, the Health Care District of Palm Beach County joined otherlocal governments by adding the benefit to its 2008 health insurancecoverage for employees. But it came through a narrow 3-2 vote.

The district, funded by taxpayers, offers free or low-cost health coverageto uninsured residents, a point Commissioner Jonathan Satter used to arguefor the benefit. About 20,000 people are covered by the district's programs.

"This is the agency where one of its largest missions is to make sureeveryone has coverage," he said. "Everyone should be entitled to healthinsurance, if it's appropriate, and I believe it's appropriate."

In August, Palm Beach Community College split its vote when it decided notto include domestic partners in its health benefits. Adding domesticpartners, who can be gay or straight, would not have added an expensebecause the college doesn't pay premiums for employees' spouses or children.

more . . . . .


S. Floridians alarmed by U.S. plan to lower level of Lake O by 1 foot

By Andy Reid
October 11, 2007

Even with Lake Okeechobee dipping to historic lows, powerful South Floridaforces are sounding the alarm over a new federal plan for what to do whenthe water returns.

Sugar cane growers, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and South Florida watermanagers question a proposal by the Army Corps of Engineers to keep LakeOkeechobee about a foot lower than normal year round.

The corps proposes holding less water in Lake Okeechobee - South Florida'sprimary backup water supply - because of safety concerns about the agingearthen dike that surrounds the 730-squre-mile lake.

But opponents argue that lowering the lake threatens to leave less wateravailable to bail out growers and other water users during future droughts.

As this year illustrated, a drought leaves less lake water to refillirrigation canals and replenish underground drinking water supplies.

more . . . . .


Election Bulletin: Frank Kruszewski Needs Your Help

Frank Kruszewski for
Miami Beach City Commissioner, Group VI

No matter where you live in Florida, you can help elect Florida's next openly gay official.

Frank Kruszewski is in a tight four-way election race for City Commission of Miami Beach and, as an openly gay candidate, he has a strong record of support for our community.

Frank and two other Commission candidates have been targeted by a bigoted attack campaign. A group is distributing an offensive flyer depicting each candidate as a doll connected to the candidate's sexual orientation, gender, and/or ethnicity. In Frank's case, the doll is Tinky Winky of the Teletubbies, and the flyer carries the message, "Stop the Candidates that represent Special Groups of Voters."

Help Frank represent the fair-minded citizens of Miami Beach and show the world that Miami Beach and Florida will not tolerate hatred and bigotry!
For information, visit
If you live in Miami Beach, vote for Frank on November 6!

*If the link is not working, cut and paste this URL into your browser:

Equality Florida Action PAC is dedicated to highlighting key local and state races for our strategic donors to consider for investment.



Mental Health Association Celebrates Golden Anniversary

The Mental Health Association of Broward County(MHA Broward) will celebrate 50 years of service to the community with a 50th Anniversary Party on Saturday, November 3, 2007. The party will begin at 7:00 PM and be hosted by The Atlantic Resort and Spa, 601 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd in Fort Lauderdale. The evening will feature a spectacular venue, delicious food, music and a silent auction. Tickets are $100 and can be ordered by calling 954-746-2055.

In 1957, a dedicated group of locals citizens formed the Mental Health Association of Broward County, an organization committed to working for mental health for all in our community. It was a time when the rights and opportunities were denied based on fear and ignorance, when the label of illness was a badge of shame. In the fifty years since, and through the dedicated work of mental health advocates, much has changed. The MHA Broward of today offers a diverse menu of programs ranging from "Listen to Children" to Parenting Classes to the 9Muses Art Center. The 9Muses Art Center teaches art skills, and members produce works that are then displayed and sold from the adjacent gallery space.

The 50h Anniversary Party will celebrate the accomplishments of MHA Broward, and bring together many of those who played a part in their success. The funds raised will support the current programs as well as help MHA Broward prepare for the future needs of our community.

This memorable event is sponsored in part by GeoCare, The Atlantic Resort and Spa, and Tropical Financial Credit Union.


October 12, 2007

Dear GLBT activists and allies,
At the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, Representative Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton) and Senator Ted Deutch (D- Boca Raton) have eintroduced legislation in the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate to amend the Florida Civil Rights Act and Florida's Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Representative Skidmore's bill (HB. 191) also includes provisions to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. "Talking Points" on HB. 191 will be sent to you later today.

Currently, the Florida Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment only on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status. Florida's Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing and public accommodation based on race, color, national origin, sex, handicap, familial status, or religion.

After consulting with their colleagues prior to the 2007 regular session of the Florida Legislature, Senator Deutch and Representative Skidmore agreed to focus their attention on prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. As a result, several statewide and national organizations did not support the legislation. Moreover, few Florida GLBT activists and allies made any effort to educate legislators about the discrimination our community faces in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations.

In light of the current debate in Washington concerning including transgender protections in the Employment Non- Discrimination Act (ENDA), it was decided that pursuing a "two bill strategy" was the best approach in Tallahassee.

The language included in the comprehensive Skidmore bill was the product of the combined efforts of Representative Skidmore and her staff, Senator Deutch and his staff, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Florida and the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.

Representative Skidmore is encouraging those legislators who co-sponsored her previous bill to co-sponsor the more comprehensive bill. Those legislators include Representatives Mary Brandenburg (D-West Palm Beach),Susan Bucher (D-West Palm Beach), Faye Culp (R-Tampa), Keith Fitzgerald (D-Sarasota), Richard Machek (D-Boca Raton), Ari Porth (D-Coral Springs), Scott Randolph (D-Orlando), Priscilla Taylor (D-West Palm Beach), Shelley Vana (D-West Palm Beach), Elaine Schwartz (D-Hollywood) and Jim Waldman (D-Coconut Creek).

Having spent the past few days conferring with colleagues in Tallahassee, Senator Deutch determined that it made the most sense strategically to refile last year's bill (which addressed only "sexual orientation.")

Our "two bill strategy" allows the subject of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to be fully addressed in Tallahassee -- even if only (initially) by the House of Representatives.

All agree that it is essential that we move forward in a united manner seeking equal protections for the entire GLBT community throughout Florida.

PBCHRC is deferring to Senator' Deutch's insight, expertise and belief that moving forward with last year's language in the Florida Senate will increase the chances that the bill will attract more co-sponsors and will move forward.

Ultimately, when progress is made on both bills, a joint committee of the Florida House and Senate will be required to address the inclusion of gender identity and gender expression.

In the next few days, a bill number will be assigned to Senator Deutch's bill by the Florida Senate. When that number is provided, PBCHRC will forward "talking points" to assist you in your efforts to educate your legislators.

PBCHRC hopes that GLBT and GLBT-supportive activists attending the Florida Democratic Convention in a few weeks will encourage their legislators to sign on as co-sponsors to these bills.

Last year, PBCHRC hired an openly gay Republican lobbyist to assist with our efforts in Tallahassee. He was able to touch base with moderate legislators whom otherwise may have been non-responsive. (PBCHRC's Board of Directors not yet determined if the organization will fund the lobbyist again in 2008).

Although there was only one Republican co-sponsor last year, it is essential that there is strong bipartisan support for these two bills in the upcoming egislative session.

Please begin the process of educating your legislators concerning the need to amend the Florida Civil Rights Act and Florida's Fair Housing Act to protect the GLBT community from discrimination.

PBCHRC will continue to keep you posted of the bills' progress.

Judge Rand Hoch (retired).
President and Founder
Palm Beach County Human Rights Council


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