April 18, 2014

Gallery | LGBT film 'The Day It Snowed In Miami' screens at historic San Carlos Institute in Key West

2014-04-16 'Snowed' Key West screening 011

Business people, activists and allies gathered Wednesday at the historic San Carlos Institute in Key West for a screening of The Day It Snowed In Miami, a documentary about the LGBT-rights movement presented by the Miami Herald Media Company and WPBT2.

2014-04-16 'Snowed' Key West screening 012A discussion followed a lobby reception and the screening, A reception begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, followed by the 90-minute screening at 7:30 p.m. and a discussion afterward. Panelists: Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Ruth Shack, who sponsored the county’s original 1977 gay-rights ordinance and opposed singer Anita Bryant’s successful campaign to repeal it; filmmaker Joe Cardona; Miami Herald LGBT issues reporter Steve Rothaus, who co-produced the film and formerly covered Key West; and AIDS Help Executive Director Scott Pridgen.

The film’s title serves as a metaphor: The ordinance that sparked the outrage was debated by commissioners on an uncharacteristically frigid night, and some opponents at the time remarked that the ordinance would pass “when hell freezes over.” The morning after the ordinance was approved — Jan. 19, 1977 — Miamians woke up to snowflakes for the first and, so far, only time.

The ordinance and subsequent battle in South Florida thrust gay rights into the national spotlight, and the film documents the LGBT movement through the present.

Major sponsors for the Key West event: the Miami Herald, San Carlos Institute, AIDS Help and Equality Florida.

Click here to view a gallery from the reception before the screening. Photos by Steve Rothaus / Miami Herald Staff.

What's next in America's gay marriage's legal odyssey?


Thursday's hearing in Denver was the second of two hearings on gay marriage that were weighted with legal significance. The cases are the first time an appellate court has considered the ramifications of last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The hearing on the legality of Oklahoma's gay marriage ban came one week after a three-judge panel heard a similar case originating from Utah.

Gay rights activists have won eight lower court cases since the Supreme Court ruling, and expectations are high that the nation's highest court eventually will rule that gays can marry in every state. But a lot can happen before then.

Click here to read 'What happened last week?,' 'What's changed?,' and other relevant details.

Judge in Colorado asks pointed questions in Oklahoma gay marriage case


DENVER -- A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions.

U.S. Circuit Judge Jerome Holmes is seen as the swing vote on the three-judge panel that heard the Oklahoma appeal and a similar case from Utah last week.

The two cases are the first to reach an appellate court since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Since then, gay rights lawyers have successfully convinced eight federal judges that the ruling means courts must strike down laws against gay marriage because they deprive same-sex couples of a fundamental right.

During Thursday's hearing before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel, Holmes suggested he interpreted the Supreme Court's ruling the same way.

"The state cannot define marriage in any way that would trample constitutional rights, right?" Holmes asked Jim Campbell, the attorney representing the defendant in the case, the Tulsa County clerk.

Click here to read more.

April 17, 2014

Lesbian couple suing to get married in Florida to attend White House Easter Egg Roll with their son

News release from Equality Florida:

getengagedMelanie & Vanessa Alenier, one of the plaintiff couples in the lawsuit for marriage equality in Florida, will be attending the Annual White House Easter Egg Roll with their son. This event, hosted by the First Family, is being held on Monday, April 21st, 2014.

The event will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling and, of course, Easter egg rolling. In addition to all of the fun, the day’s activities will encourage children to lead healthy, active lives in support of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative.

In January the Aleniers were one of six couples that joined Equality Florida Institute in filing a lawsuit aimed at allowing same-sex couples to marry in Florida. At the press conference, Vanessa Alenier explained why the couple agreed to be plaintiffs.

“Melanie and I have worked so hard to build and protect our family, but nothing can come close to matching the protections that marriage provides. Our family is in need of those protections just like other families. We want our son to understand that his family is secure and just as respected as any other family in our community here in Florida.”

"We are proud of the Aleniers and their willingness to speak up for all of our families," said Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida.  “We look forward to our day in court, confident that the law will rule on the side of equality and fairness. The majority of Floridians now stand with us. It is time for all families in our state to have full equality under the law.”

You can follow the Easter Egg Roll on Twitter with the hashtag #EasterEggRoll, and watch the event live on WhiteHouse.gov/live.

About Equality Florida
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. www.eqfl.org

April 16, 2014

LGBT rights group sends petition to IOC: Don't hold Olympics in countries that discriminate against gays


all outLAUSANNE, Switzerland -- More than 100,000 members of an international gay rights group have sent messages to the IOC urging changes to ensure that future Olympic host countries do not have discriminatory laws on their books.

The group All Out reiterated its call on the International Olympic Committee to overhaul its selection process, citing the controversy that surrounded the Winter Games in Sochi over Russia's law prohibiting so-called gay "propaganda."

All Out says it delivered its message before Tuesday's deadline for public submissions on "Olympic Agenda 2020," IOC President Thomas Bach's project for reforms that will be voted on in December in Monaco.

All Out says more than 74,000 members signed a petition delivered to the IOC and another 41,000 sent their own messages.

The group wants the IOC to require that host countries have no discriminatory laws in place and future host city contracts include human rights pledges. It also urges the IOC to amend a clause in the Olympic Charter to specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.