July 29, 2014

Tickets on sale for Pridelines Youth Services’ annual Masquerade Ball fundraiser on Aug. 16

News release from Pridelines Youth Services:

image004Pridelines Youth Services, South Florida’s oldest LGBTQ service agency, is proud to announce its annual gala to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community. Pridelines’ Masquerade Ball, presented by Jim Tyrrell, Jay Richard DiBiaso and Roger Thomson, will take place Saturday, August 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. Tickets are on sale now for $150 per guest or $1,500 for a table of 10.

“An evening of elegance and romance, reminiscent of Venice’s Carnival, ‘Pridelines' Masquerade Ball’ will undoubtedly be one of the community's most enjoyable events of the year,” said Victor Diaz-Herman, executive director of Pridelines. “Masquerade will feature a silent auction, cocktail reception, and a formal dining experience along with entertainment and dancing,” he added.

Performing at Masquerade will be Noel Leon, JesiMixx and DJ Sayho. Guests are encouraged to wear elaborately decorated masks in keeping with the Masquerade theme, Diaz-Herman said, adding that Beatnix in South Beach is offering a 20% discount on masks to customers who mention the Pridelines Masquerade Ball.

Proceeds benefit Pridelines Youth Services, South Florida’s oldest service agency dedicated to the lesbian,gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community and their straight allies. Pridelines’ mission is to support education and empower South Florida’s LGBTQ youth in safe and diverse environments, and to promote social change through dialogue. Pridelines provides nightly programs, Youth Enrichment Activities, HIV testing and support groups, meals and snacks, a David Bohnett Cybercenter, and the only drop-in center in Miami-Dade County for the LGBTQ community. Most importantly, Pridelines provides referral services for youth who are at-risk of or dealing with issues such as suicidal ideation, substance abuse, physical abuse, as well as emotional abuse at home, in school or on the streets. Pridelines is also dedicated to providing wrap-around services, safe spaces, and affirming environments for Homeless LGBTQ youth.

Tickets are available at www.pridelinesmasquerade.com. Table host and sponsorship opportunities are also available on the website or by contacting Diaz-Herman victor@pridelines.org or 305-571-9601 ext. 3.

Charlie Crist: If elected, I’ll ban discrimination against LGBT state employees, contractors


ST. PETERSBURG -- Former Gov. Charlie Crist says he will sign five executive orders on his first day back in office if he's elected in November.

Crist made the announcement Tuesday. He said he would order agencies under his control to require that contractors pay employees at least $10.10 an hour.

He also said he would sign orders banning discrimination against gay and transgender employees at agencies under his control and their contractors, and another to require equal pay for women.

Contractors would be required to, whenever possible, hire Florida companies as subcontractors.

And Crist said he would sign an order to require agencies to provide public records at the lowest possible cost to the public.

Crist served as a Republican governor from 2007 to 2011 and is now running as a Democrat.

UFC fighter Kyle Kingsbury drops shorts at weigh-in, revealing pink 'Legalize Gay' underpants

Kyle Kingsbury

UFC Light Heavyweight champ Kyle Kingsbury made a statement before his last fight on Saturday – he stripped off his shorts at weigh-in revealing a pair of pink "Legalize Gay" underpants.

Alas, Kingsbury lost the fight to opponent Patrick Cummins and retired from fighting.

Click here to watch the UFC video.

July 28, 2014

Keys men who won marriage case ask appeals court to send case to Florida Supreme Court


Pushing for a decision that would topple Florida’s gay-marriage ban in all 67 counties, lawyers for two Monroe County men who won the right to marry asked an appeals court Monday to move the case directly to state's Supreme Court.

“The constitutionality of Florida's laws barring same-sex couples from marriage is an issue of great public importance that has a great effect on the proper administration of justice throughout the state,” lawyers Bernadette Restivo and Elena Vigil-Fariñas, who represent Key West bartenders Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, wrote to the Miami-based Third District Court of Appeal. “There is a need to bring finality to this issue on a statewide basis so that clerks of court throughout the state have uniform guidance as to whether they must issue marriage licenses on an equal basis to otherwise qualified same-sex couples.”

According to the attorneys, “a decision from the Supreme Court would also provide uniform direction and guidance to government, public and private entities throughout the state, including the judiciary, which make decisions on a daily basis with regard to the provision of benefits or rights to persons based in whole or in part on their marital status.”

The lawyers describe the case as “an issue of great public importance that directly and profoundly affects same-sex couples throughout the state, as well as their children and other family members, by excluding them from a right the Supreme Court has declared to be ‘of fundamental importance for all individuals.’”

The appeals court gave Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose office has appealed the men’s legal victory, 10 days to respond.

On July 17, Monroe Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia declared Florida's 2008 gay-marriage ban unconstitutional, ruling against Bondi, whose office defended the ban. Huntsman and Jones have not been allowed to marry: Florida law mandates that an automatic stay pending appeal is triggered when a public official loses a court case.

The Monroe County case mirrors one in Miami-Dade, in which Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel on Friday ordered that six same-sex couples also be allowed to marry, but stayed her ruling pending appeal.

Preventing same-sex couples from marrying, Zabel said, “serves only to hurt, to discriminate, to deprive same-sex couples and their families of equal dignity, to label and treat them as second-class citizens, and to deem them unworthy of participation in one of the fundamental institutions of our society.”

The gay-marriage battle is being waged across the nation. Currently, gay marriage is legal in 19 states and Washington, D.C.

A federal judge last week ruled Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. And on Monday, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling that Virginia’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, a decision that could topple similar prohibitions in the Carolinas and West Virginia.

Late Monday afternoon, North Carolina’s attorney general announced his office will no longer fight lawsuits seeking to overturn the state's ban, according to the national advocacy group, Freedom to Marry.

“Attorney General Roy Cooper is the ninth state attorney general across the country who has refused to defend a state marriage ban,” Freedom to Marry Executive Director Evan Wolfson said in a news release. “Cooper's decision follows similar moves from the attorneys general in California, New Mexico, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Virginia, Oregon, and Kentucky. Each of these attorneys general refused to defend anti-marriage laws in their states, declaring them unconstitutional and indefensible, as have nearly 30 consecutive rulings in state and federal courts across the country.”

According to Freedom to Marry, LGBT advocates have won more than 25 times in federal, state and appellate courts since June 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Edith Windsor, a lesbian widow, and threw out a key portion of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutionality of state marriage bans.

It is likely that the Monroe and Miami-Dade cases will be appealed together and that whatever decision is reached by the appeals court will affect both.

“Florida's same-sex couples have waited long enough for marriage equality so, while we respect whatever decision is made by the Third District Court of Appeal with regard to certification of this pressing matter, we do hope to proceed directly to the Florida Supreme Court,” said Elizabeth Schwartz, a Miami Beach attorney helping represent the six same-sex couples and Equality Florida Institute in the Miami-Dade suit. “Our team is working very closely with the Monroe County case's counsel, coordinating strategies and providing drafting support. I'm confident that together our cases will serve to be another nail in the coffin of these bigoted marriage bans.”

Restivo said whichever side might lose at the Florida Supreme Court could then “petition the United States Supreme Court to take the case.”

Sperm donations, same-sex spouses: 'Modern Family' bills aim to bring law into 21st century


SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California lawmakers will consider updating family law and parental rights to keep up with the evolving nature of families when they return from summer break.

Bitter, high-profile disputes have inspired legislators to modernize laws molded for "Leave it to Beaver"-era families. Jason Patric, star of "The Lost Boys," has been seeking custody rights over a son he fathered through sperm donation. The children of radio personality Casey Kasem had been in a legal fight with their stepmother to visit their father in the last years of his life.

Supporters of these bills say such cases demonstrate that laws are lagging behind technology and social change. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat and longtime gay rights advocate, said updating the laws is just one way for nontraditional families to gain acceptance.

"As a lawmaker, what you can accomplish is changing what's in the law that's being detrimental and dehumanizing," Ammiano said.

For example, legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this month deletes the definition of marriage as "between a man and a woman" in family law and replaces references to husband and wife with the word spouse.

With gay marriage legalized in California last year, the Senate is considering Ammiano's "Modern Family Act" to confront thorny situations same-sex and other couples have found themselves in under existing law. The bill, AB2344, would expedite adoptions for non-biological parents, such as a lesbian whose spouse gave birth to their child.

Click here to read more.

July 27, 2014

View the photos | Miami Beach Bruthaz 2014 weekend 'for same gender loving men and women'

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Miami Beach Bruthaz recently held its annual conference in South Beach and shares photos from events from July 17-20, 2014.

MMB Pool Party (141) (1)From the group's Facebook page:

"Miami Beach Bruthaz was founded in July 2006 as an annual summer lifestyle event for same gender loving men and women from across the country.

"Through a series of social, knowledge-filled and personalized activities, this event promotes unity, camaraderie and a sense of belonging among its attendees."

Photos by Ramses Frederick. Click here to view more pictures.

July 26, 2014

Register now for 2014 Ujima Men's Collective conference, for ‘Black same gender loving men’


From Lorenzo Robertson, conference coordinator of the Ujima Men’s Collective.

“Our conference is scheduled for October, but we need people to register now,” Robertson says.

According to the website: “The Ujima Men's Collective was formed to create a collective of Black same gender loving men and those that love and work with them to meet, educate and build a strong network where they live to address issues of equality, enlightenment for our greater community, safety and health concerns in their community.”

Robertson has provided details of the conference:

The Ujima Men’s Collective will hold its annual conference at the Westin Hotel Fort Lauderdale, October 24-26, 2014. The conference theme is Dare 2B AWARE, and keynote speaker Phill Wilson (CEO, Black AIDS Institute) will address delegates and lead discussion on the importance of genuine social equality, enlightenment for our greater community and health and HIV concerns in the Black same gender loving (SGL) community. Filmmaker Amir Dixon will screen his award-winning documentary, Friend of Essex at the conference and entertain a Q and A with conference attendees.

The Ujima Men’s Collective believes that personal responsibility is simply a moral choice. In addition, The Ujima Men's Collective conference comes at a critical time when more Black same gender loving men are plagued with challenges of health issues, bullying, homophobia and self-hatred.

During the past ten years, the Ujima Men’s collective initiated a number of sustainability initiatives, and committed to a prominent campaign to build a network of Black SGL men. These men are dedicated to making strides in areas of leadership, advocacy, spirituality, relationships and health & wellness.

Alongside the keynote addresses, delegates to the conference will also have access to a range of workshops on leadership, advocacy, spirituality, relationships and health & wellness. This is an initiative of Ujima Men’s Collective Conference Coordinator Lorenzo Robertson, who believes Black SGL men and their supporters should have the opportunity education, empowerment and encouragement in a non-threatening environment. Contact us, if you are interested in facilitating a workshop.

"Learning techniques and applying them to your personal life can create significant changes for Black same gender loving men and their supporters; and the conference will give many a unique opportunity to learn from other Black same gender loving men," he says.

"This is something I believe that the conference is an exceptional occasion for Black same gender loving men learn and grow, and I am proud that Ujima Men’s Collective is taking a determined lead to address the issues concerning Black same gender loving men."

The Ujima Men’s Collective Conference, Dare 2B AWARE will be held at the Westin Hotel, Fort Lauderdale, Friday-Sunday, October 24-26, 2014. We will have a keynote address and discussion by Phill Wilson. Register early for attendance and/or facilitating a workshop, log onto www.ujimamen.com.