Marriage Equality Rules!

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Marriage equality became the rule in all 67 of the counties of Florida today! Even rogue AG Pam Bondi had to concede the inevitability of this development and wished couples well. Clerks in some counties have resorted to ceasing to perform marriages at all, but they are still required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Now we need a statewide ENDA in Florida and one nationwide. Rights for transgendered people are also essential.

Marriage equality is also sweeping the country, as the above chart from thenewcivilrightsmovement.com shows. They estimate that 70% of gay men and lesbians in this country live in a place where same-sex marriage is legal. Sometimes the “good guys” win in the end.

 

Happy New Year! Here’s to a great 2015! | MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action

Here’s to a great 2015! | MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action. – Happy New Year! Finally emerging from the long year that was 2014 feels wonderful! Things were still accomplished, though. In this video Robert Reich shows that even in the dark days of a year like 2014 progressives working together made strides. This should remind us be undaunted by setbacks and energize us to keep our heads up and make even more progress this year! Despite the “GOP” takeover of the U.S. Senate (and gain of governorships) 2015 can be a great year

Pride Days in Gainesville This Week

Pride Days are being celebrated in Gainesville this week. They began on October 18th (last Friday) and end on the 27th (Sunday). Here is a list of events, mostly taken from the Pride Guide,  in case your haven’t seen a one:

Tuesday night : The film “Beautiful Boxer” at the Hippodrome. This feature is about the real life story of Parinya Charoenphol and is sponsored by LGBT Affairs of the University of Florida.

Wednesday night: Be More Heroic, an anti-bullying campaign, is being held at Ustler Hall at the University of Florida. This event is co-sponsored by UF APIA Affairs, The River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding, and UF Intercultural Engineers.

Thursday night : “Living History.” This presentation will be held at the Pride Center (3131 NW 13th Street) by the Human Rights Council of North Central Florida (HRCNCF).

Saturday Afternoon : Pride March. Starts at noon. Marchers assemble at NW 7th Street and the South Side of W University Avenue in the parking lot next to the Ayers Medical Plaza. The March will then proceed to the Bo Diddley Downtown Plaza.

Saturday Afternoon : Pride Festival. Runs from 1 to 9 P.M. on the Bo Diddley Downtown Plaza with many local venders and tabling by activist groups. Sponsored by the City of Gainesville. “A Kids Space” also available.

Sunday Morning: Pride Service at the United Church of Gainesville (local branch of the United Church of Christ):

Alachua County Commission to vote Aug. 13 on adding sexual orientation and sexual identity to anti-discrimination ordinance

A decades old wrong is about to be righted in Alachua County, Florida this month. Nineteen years ago, in 1994, the Alachua County Commission voted to add sexual orientation to the county anti-discrimination ordinance. Opponents of gay rights responded with a county ballot referendum repealing the above mentioned measure and forbidding commissioners from taking such action in the future.

Supporters of gay rights formed an organization called No On 1 and fought the anti-gay initiative, but they lost. They then filed suit. The judge in the case chose to wait for a decision pending in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Romer v. Evans, in which the Colorado Supreme Court overturned a state anti-gay measure similar to the one in Alachua County.

The SCOTUS decision, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, while reversing the Colorado Court’s striking down of the portion of the anti-gay law repealing gay rights legislation, upheld the portion of the state court’s decision striking  down the section forbidding the state government from enacting gay rights laws in the future. The judge in the Alachua County case responded by treated the Alachua County initiative similarly: uphold the repeal of gay rights protection but invalidated the prohibition against passing any such measure in the future.

Although the future was left open, for the time being gay rights advocates unfortunately had to settle for inclusion of sexual orientation in the City of Gainesville’s anti-discrimination ordinance and inclusion of gender identity later. People were thus protected from discrimination on those bases in  Gainesville but not in the rest of the county. For nineteen years lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transgendered had no recourse at the county level.

That was how things stood until June 25, when the County Commission voted 4-1 to vote, on Aug. 13, on once again including sexual orientation, and this time gender identity as well, in the county anti-discrimination ordinance where they belong, the dissenting vote coming from the lone Tea Partier on the commission. Romer v. Evans has finally led to the opportunity to rectify the wrong that was done in 1994.

The time for this action has come. Actually, it came long ago but was thwarted by a vocal, well-funded minority. It is indeed past time for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transgendered to get their due, to be granted equal protection under the law. Alachua County and Gainesville should be ahead of the curve on progressive change. Hopefully the county commission will put Alachua County there on LGBT rights.