BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Dozens of gay South Florida civic leaders are furious that a Grammy-winning DJ and a major Miami Beach nightclub group have again scheduled a dance party at Mansion that they fear will lure gay tourists -- and their money -- from a Winter Party Festival fundraiser on March 7.
Winter Party is a six-day annual festival that attracts 10,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people -- many of them from out of town -- to South Beach, said chairman Chad Richter, who accuses New York-based DJ Peter Rauhofer and Miami Beach's Opium Group of piggy-backing on the fundraiser's tourist draw.
Winter Party events usually sell out. This year's host hotel, the Doubletree Surfcomber Hotel Miami-South Beach, already is fully booked for the March 3-8 festival, Richter said.
Rauhofer checks the calendar for major gay events "and just swoops in," Richter said.
In November 2008, Rauhofer produced a South Beach "Main Event'' dance party at Mansion in direct competition with White Party Week's Noche Blanca fundraiser for Care Resource, Florida's largest AIDS service agency. Four months later, he held another dance party at Mansion that competed with the 2009 Winter Party Festival's Sunday night event at Cameo nightclub on Washington Avenue.
Two years ago, 1,910 people attended Winter Party's Cameo party, which grossed $112,000. In 2009, when Rauhofer staged his dance party the same night, only 1,500 people attended the Cameo party. Gross revenue dropped to $76,000, Richter said. That was in contrast to other 2009 Winter Party events, which did not lose attendance.
Winter Party's profits benefit the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and local gay charities including Miami Beach Gay Pride Festival, Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and Pridelines Youth Services. Rauhofer's for-profit dance parties -- which target the same demographic as Winter Party -- benefit the DJ and Opium Group.
"The Opium Group should care . . . about what's happening here in our community. It's not just about dollars," said Babak Movahedi, owner of MOVA lounge off Lincoln Road. He and Richter are among 25 local gay activists who signed an open letter from the Task Force to Rauhofer and Opium Group, asking them to not counter-schedule another event against Winter Party in 2011.
"When they see that so many people care about this in our community, they should think twice about it," Movahedi said.
Neither Rauhofer nor Opium Group marketing manager Carlos Correal returned phone calls seeking comment. Vanessa Menkes, Opium Group publicist, said by e-mail that she is in Israel for a family funeral and unable to give a telephone interview.
Rauhofer also declined a request via Facebook.
"Sorry, I won't be eligible for this interview as my party @ Mansion has NOTHING to do with Winter Party," Rauhofer responded to Miami.com blogger Juan Lopez.
Richter believes Rauhofer's planned March 7 party has everything to do with Winter Party.
"Sunday night is the biggest, most profitable night of the festival," Richter said.
Winter Party was conceived in 1993 as a volunteer, community-based fundraiser to support gay rights in Miami-Dade County.
The first beach party in 1994 netted $50,000. In March 2003, the festival had grown to several events and generated about $200,000 in profits for its then-owner, the Gay Foundation of South Florida (originally the Dade Human Rights Foundation). That group, in turn, gave grants to the gay film festival, Fort Lauderdale's gay and lesbian community center and Pridelines, a support group for LGBT teens.
The bottom fell out in 2004 when the mismanaged Gay Foundation suddenly closed. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the nation's oldest gay civil-rights group, paid the debts in exchange for the foundation's assets -- its annual recognition dinner and Winter Party.
The Task Force agreed to keep one-third of the profits and give two-thirds to South Florida gay nonprofits. The local money is distributed through the Dade Community Foundation's GLBT Community Projects Fund.
Richter fears this year's Winter Party revenue will be worse than last year because the Sunday night party won't be on South Beach. In 2009, Opium Group bought Cameo and told Winter Party planners it wouldn't be available for this year's festival.
"They said they have a very successful straight night [on Sundays at Mansion] and they're going to move it to Cameo and give Peter Mansion, which means there's no venue for us," Richter said. "They're going to push us off the Beach."
Instead, Winter Party will hold its Sunday dance event, Orbit, featuring DJs Tracy Young and Boris at The Terrace above Club Space in downtown Miami. Shuttle buses will run all night between Space and the Surfcomber.
Richter fears that if revenue from this year's Winter Party substantially drops, the Task Force might reconsider future festivals.
"If the festival doesn't do well this year, we're not going to pull the plug," said Russell Roybal, the Task Force's deputy executive director of external relations. "We may try to do things differently in terms of the revenue we're raising, but we're not going to walk away from South Florida."
Winter Party Orbit dance photos by MRNY
Amid the controversy of CBS accepting football star Tim Tebow’s Super Bowl night anti-abortion ad for conservative Focus on the Family, comes ManCrunch, a gay dating site.
ManCrunch claims it has submitted the following ad to CBS, but the network still hasn’t said whether it will permit the spot to run. (Some on the Internet suggest this is a ManCrunch publicity stunt.)
Dominic Friesen, spokesman for ManCrunch, says the company is prepared to pay a premium – about $3 million – to air the spot during the Super Bowl.
“ManCrunch just launched in January 2010,’’ Friesen said. “Our primary target is men and that’s who watches the Super Bowl. We thought we’d get a big splash running the ad and that we’ll get a good return on the investment.”
From Mary D::
There is a new night for the women of Miami called Venus Envy and it is happening every Friday Night on South Beach. Located above Barton G. (no affiliation with the party) on West Ave, it is going down at Club Private Residence. The night is the kind of throwback club people have been looking forward to for quite some time and it's of a caliber that can be spoken of only in whispers. Why? because this kind of cool you don't shout from the rooftops." We are creating a destination for women on Friday nights, a sort of Paris salon meets South Beach - with great music, and drinks - it is open bar all night " says South Beach pioneer promoter Mary D., the host of the night " The kind of vibe that makes you feel your at a private party and it's your secret place, except your surrounded by beautiful women everywhere." Mary D. sees this night and location as something special. When Debbie Ohanian, Miami entrepreneur and owner of Private Residence contacted her about doing a night, she jumped at the chance to work with her, "Debbie is a total class act and has provided a beautiful place with areas to lounge , dance, or just chill on the rooftop patio." With music by the legendary Dj Ruben Pagan who is now known as DJ King Domino, Jennifer Maria Cordoba among the bartenders and the women of Miami thrown in with the atmosphere, it is surely the place to be every Friday.
Club Private Residence
1427 West Ave. . north side entrance
OPEN BAR ALL NIGHT . Valet parking available
Gay Men always welcome.
For info, e-mail Marydmia@aol.com
By MARK STEVENSON, Associated Press
MEXICO CITY -- Mexican federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that they will try to overturn Mexico City's gay marriage law, which allows same-sex couples to adopt children, on the grounds it violates the constitution.
The Mexico City law, approved in December and due to take effect in March, is the first of its kind in Latin America.
The federal Attorney General's Office said in a statement that it believes the law "violates the principle of legality, because it strays from the constitutional principle of protecting the family."
It cited an article in Mexico's constitution that suggests - but does not state - that the framers envisioned families constituted by men, women and children. The article states: "Men and women are equal before the law. This protects the organization and development of the family."
The office said it filed an appeal with the country's Supreme Court asking it to void the law, arguing it also "strays from the responsibility of the government to place a priority on safeguarding the interests of children."
The Roman Catholic Church in Mexico has harshly criticized the law, and President Felipe Calderon's conservative National Action Party has mounted a campaign against the measure.
Mexico City legislators argued the law simply gives same-sex couples the rights that heterosexual couples have regarding social security and other benefits.
Legislators said there is no evidence children adopted by same-sex couples suffer any disadvantages.
The federal prosecutor's office previously challenged a Mexico City law legalizing abortion, but the Supreme Court upheld the measure in 2008.
An Argentine couple participated in Latin America's first gay wedding in December, but interpretations vary on whether the law allows same-sex unions in Argentina and the question is now before that country's supreme court.
Argentina's constitution is silent on whether marriage must be between a man and a woman, effectively leaving the matter to provincial officials, who approved the wedding. But a law specifically legalizing gay marriage has been stalled in its Congress since October.
By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is urging Congress to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, but Democratic allies and Republican opponents alike are criticizing his approach.
Obama's effort to eliminate the "don't ask, don't tell" practice faces resistance not just from Congress, but also from the Pentagon, where some top officials have been strident in their support for the Clinton-era policy.
"This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are," Obama said Wednesday during his State of the Union address. "It's the right thing to do."
The statement drew a standing ovation from Congress and from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, but it fell short for gay activists.
An organization representing service members who had been dismissed called on Obama to push a repeal in the upcoming Pentagon budget, and Clinton's adviser on gay issues called Obama's performance in the first year "an almost complete disaster."
Kevin Nix, communications director at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said the group wants Obama to repeal the policy the same way Clinton introduced it in 1993 - through the defense authorization bill.
"We very much need a sense of urgency to get this done in 2010," said Nix, whose group estimates more that 13,500 gays and lesbians have been dismissed since 1994. "What is also needed is more attention and leadership to win repeal."
Richard Socarides, a Clinton adviser who has been a vocal critic of how Obama has handled gay constituents, was less reserved.
"In 1999, Bill Clinton became the first president ever to talk about gay rights in a State of the Union address. Eleven years later, not much has changed," Socarides said. Talking again about ending the policy "without a moratorium on the witch hunts and expulsions and without even a plan for future action just won't cut it," he said.
"Look, we are not second-class citizens and our rights are not second-term problems," he said.
Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said Obama should have announced a suspension of dismissals.
"The time for broad statements is over. The time to get down to business is overdue. We wish we had heard him speak of concrete steps tonight," Carey said.
Obama's relationship with the gay community has been rocky since his election. Gays and lesbians objected to the invitation of evangelist Rev. Rick Warren to participate in Obama's inauguration because of Warren's support for repealing gay marriage in California.
As president, Obama hasn't taken any concrete steps urging the repeal of the policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military as long as they don't disclose their sexual orientation or act on it. Some former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have acknowledged the policy is flawed, and Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen signed off on a journal article that called for lifting the ban.
Yet Mullen's lawyers have urged a delay that could go into the middle of the next presidential election year.
"Now is not the time," the in-house advisers for Mullen wrote recently in a memorandum. "The importance of winning the wars we are in, along with the stress on the force, our body of knowledge and the number of unknowns, demand that we act with deliberation."
Mullen received the conflicting advice this month about whether to move quickly to lift the 1993 ban, and it is not clear what he will recommend to Obama. Although allowing gays to serve openly in the military was one of Obama's campaign promises, the issue was put on a back burner during his first year in office. Some liberal supporters and several congressional Democrats are pushing for action.
The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee urged Obama to listen to the uniforms.
"No action to change the law should be taken by the administration or by this Congress until we have a full and complete understanding of the reasons why the current law threatens or undermines readiness in any significant way," Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., wrote to Mullen and Gates, "whether a change in law will improve readiness in measurable ways, and what the implications for and effects on military readiness, cohesion, morale, good order and discipline are entailed with a change in law."
Republican Sen. John McCain, a prisoner of war during Vietnam and Obama's opponent in the 2008 presidential race, said the policy has been successful.
"At a time when our armed forces are fighting and sacrificing on the battlefield, now is not the time to abandon the policy," said McCain, R-Ariz.
Associated Press writers Kimberly Hefling and Anne Gearan contributed to this report.
Statement from Generational Alliance:
The following is a joint statement of the thirteen organizations of the Generational Alliance. The Generational Alliance is a collaboration of leading youth groups working to improve the lives and future of young people in underrepresented communities: youth of color, low-income youth and LGBTQ youth.
“We applaud the President’s focus tonight on creating jobs and making college more affordable. As young Americans, we are on track to be the first generation since the Great Depression to inherit a worse economic situation than our parents. Youth unemployment is over 27%, with some of our communities faring even worse--joblessness for 16-to-24-year-old black men is over 34 percent. And the average college student graduates with over $23,000 in debt. But we need action on more than just jobs and debt. Young people face increasingly difficult challenges: violence in our communities, lack of access to health care coverage, and the negative effects of climate change, among many others. In 2008, our communities surged to the polls in record numbers to vote for change. The steps the President and Congress take on these challenges will help determine if our communities “Resurge” in 2010 and beyond.”
News release from Lambda Legal:
Lambda Legal Responds to President Obama's Remarks on "Don't Ask Don't Tell" in State of the Union Address
(New York, January 27, 2010) — In response to President Obama's remarks expressing his intention to end the military's discriminatory policy on gay service members known as "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT), Lambda Legal
released the following statement from Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director:
"We have heard promises before about ending 'Don’t Ask, Don't Tell' and we welcome the President's statement tonight that the time has finally come to fulfill that promise. Very little has changed since Lambda Legal represented Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer 18 years ago after she was discharged for being a lesbian. Changing this discriminatory policy is long overdue.
"The military is our nation's largest employer and this government sanctioned discrimination must end. We will continue to advocate for the repeal of DADT so that gay and lesbian services members and their families can serve openly and with the same support afforded to other military
News release from Family Research Council:
Washington, D.C. - Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement in response to President Obama's first State of the Union Address:
"At a time of enormous economic challenge, two on-going wars in which American are fighting and increased terrorist threats to Americans at home, President Obama seems untethered from that reality as he called on Congress to force the military to allow open homosexuality. As a veteran of the Marine Corps, the timing of the President's call in the midst of two wars shows that he is willing to jeopardize our nation's security to advance the agenda of the radical homosexual lobby.
"The military is a warrior culture for a reason: Our service members wear the uniform to fight and win wars, not serve as liberal social policy guinea pigs. The sexual environment the President is seeking to impose upon the young men and women who serve this country is the antithesis of the successful warfighting culture and as such should be rejected.
"Tonight the President also proposed expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit which would only benefit families if: both parents work, a single parent works, or one parent works and the other is in school. In other words, it completely discriminates against families with stay-at-home parents, who wouldn't see a penny from this plan. The President's plan further drives a wedge between parents and children as it would encourage parents to place their children in government approved day-care rather than encouraging one parent to stay home and personally care for their off-spring.
"This new socialized child care proposal comes on the heels of a proposed major marriage tax penalty included within the President's health care bills. A tax penalty on married couples only serves to discourage couples from marrying while encouraging societal instability through cohabitation and divorce.
"If this administration cared about getting families back on their feet, it would double or triple the across-the-board child tax credit and let parents decide how to spend the money. For many, it may be all the incentive they need to stay home and care for their kids.
"We applaud Governor Bob McDonnell for calling for a land in which 'innocent human life is protected.' The governor's call to protect human life is clearly in line with the American people who overwhelmingly oppose the President's health care plan which would use our hard earned dollars to pay for abortion coverage. FRC will continue to work to ensure taxpayers are not forced to be part of the President's pro-abortion agenda.
"Family Research Council pledges to work with our allies and the thousands of families we represent to oppose the President's plans to socialize child care, sexualize the military, and penalize married couples through a government takeover of the U.S. health care system."