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U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to receive SAVE Dade award; says gay marriage 'should be left to the states'

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

A day after President Barack Obama announced support for gay marriage and on the eve of his accepting an award from Miami-Dade County’s leading gay rights group, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has tip-toed out of the political closet.

“I have a record fighting against discrimination and standing up for people’s civil rights based on their sexual orientation,” Nelson said in an email Thursday to The Miami Herald, not revealing whether he agrees with Obama’s progressive stance on gay couples marrying. “I believe marriage should be left to the states, and Florida voted on same-sex marriage in 2008.”

“That’s interestingly safe,” said C.J. Ortuño, executive director of SAVE Dade, which Friday night presents Nelson its 2012 Champions of Equality Award. “Bill spent his whole career saying I’m not this liberal Democrat, parts of me are conservative.”

Like most Democrats in today’s national spotlight, Florida’s senior senator is walking a political tightrope, not wanting to turn off the traditional liberal base — or the moderates and independents needed to win a statewide election.

“Florida is not one state. It’s three or four,” said Mitch Ceasar, chairman of the Broward County Democratic Executive Committee and a Democratic National Committee member. “South Florida is like the Northeast; Central Florida is like the Midwest; and North Florida is the real South.”

Nelson, running for reelection in November, points to a record that includes co-sponsoring new anti-bullying legislation to protect children based on sexual orientation; advocating to provide medication for poor people with AIDS; and co-sponsoring repeal in 2010 of the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.

“I was proud to do so,” Nelson said in e-mailed remarks he plans to give Friday night at the SAVE Dade fundraiser. “The courage, the bravery, the sacrifice and the patriotism of all Americans who serve deserve no less.”

Nelson was unavailable to be interviewed directly, according to his Washington press office.

SAVE Dade will honor Nelson specifically for his role in repealing the military gay ban. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, is scheduled to introduce him.

“Sen. Nelson voted with his constituents and, what we believe, was his conscience in ending the military ban known as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’" Ortuño said. “Elected officials uniquely occupy a place in our movement that they get to publicly declare their position on our issues in the form of a vote.”

Nelson has not co-sponsored several other issues important to many gay activists, including the proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; and the Uniting American Families Act, which would grant legal status to same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and legal residents.

“We still have work to do with Sen. Nelson,” Ortuño said. “He’s not 100 percent on the issues, but he is one of our two senators and SAVE Dade is committed to chipping away at Sen. Nelson’s challenges in supporting full equality.”

Ceasar said Nelson, like other Democrats, is in the difficult position of trying to make everyone happy.

“Which by definition is impossible,” Ceasar said. “Anyone who tries to make everyone happy makes no one happy in politics. As in life.”

His advice to Nelson and other Democrats grappling with gay marriage and other hot-button issues:

“They’re going to have to make decisions based on their own thoughts,” Ceasar said. “I would say to them, ‘With one eye look into your own heart. With your other eye, look at the demographics of where you are.’”


SAVE Dade’s annual Champions of Equality reception is 6-9:30 p.m. Friday at LMNT, 55 NW 36th St. Honorees are U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and White & Case, a national law firm with a Miami office that represented the gay Log Cabin Republicans in a 2010 federal lawsuit to repeal the military gay ban. Tickets are $95; $125 night of the event.


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A great cop-out by politicians so they don't have to say their opinion one way or the other, "leave it to the states", well let's put it to a vote..........and while we are at it, let's also vote on dating your Great Dane.

actually, this is obama's position too. he says, leave it to the states.

No, it shouldn't be left up to the government at any level. It should be left to the couple in the relationship.

“I believe marriage should be left to the states, and Florida voted on same-sex marriage in 2008.”

Oh, just like when 30 states decided to ban interracial marriage, 60 years ago? That was okay, senator? Or how about the part where the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the "will of the people" and nullified all those bans. Was it wrong to disregard what the majority wanted, and follow the Constitution?

As for the ban in 2008, do you honestly believe that people don't change their minds on issues? ...and do you honestly believe that a majority is always right when it comes to granting civil rights to minorities? When exactly has that ever happened?

So why is SAVE Dade honoring him? Seems the bar has been set awfully low, diminishing the honor for the other, truly deserving recipients.

This would be something that a Democrat would support. Rather than provide government for the people the current system is too worried about social justice. IT seems that the government is a joke these day. Get back to governing.

What a crock of $%G^7. I'm not gay but I support same sex marriage. Why you ask? Because who cares. If they love each other, form a union, and support themselves and care for each other, why not? I rather see same sex marriages succeed than broken heterosexual marriages fail, people cheating on each other, killing each other, lying to each other, robbing each other, beating up and abusing kids. Let them be happy.

I support love across all human dimensions.

The good book has many verses against homosexuals. There are so many,there would not be enough apace for them. Read Romans 1:24-27

I'm gay, and atheist, and his position makes me sick. What about the federal government's recognition of states that accept gay marriage, does he accept that or not? Does he justify his refusal to support gay marraige based on states that deny it because they support the bible, or the book of mormon or the qu'ran? Why is is ok for some to reject and others not to? This is our lives, if not now, than when? If you agree w/ states that base their beliefs on the book of mormon, then why can't blacks in mormonism become gods like whites could 30 years ago? If it's based on fundamental christianity, then why did that group not support interracial marriages 30 years ago? If it is a combination of both, then how do you reconcile that mormons become gods and christians believe in one god? If its all just to keep the status quo in power and keep down minorities and not give them a fair shake, than just say so, but don't use your silly religious beliefs as justification or rely on states' opinions that do so. An award? Makes me want to vomit.

Read what Paul and has to say about homosexuals in Romans 1:24-27 also 1 Corinthians 6-7 tells about homosexuals.

It is still a democracy not a Queenocracy. The vast majority have no interest in gay couples. Just ignore them.

Let the states decided what that marriage ultimately is.

I dont believe that discrimination has any place in this world. The QUESTION is, How can one identify a gay person upon seeing one?

Because sexual orientation is not a trait that can be readily identified, a lot of people will claim to be gay or not gay as matter of convenience, a choice not available to Blacks. Now, Gay people may align their greivances with those of religious groups under a First Amendment scheme, but they cannot reasonably align themselves with the plight of Blacks under the equal protection framework of the 14 Amendment.

Marriage is between one man and one woman for the purpose of procreation. It is not made for those seeking pleasure or longing for companionship, and those are found in a marriage they are simply collateral. Being aware that they will never meet those criteria, especially procreation, gay people seek to alter that definition to make marriage anything between any number of things. Not even animals would be able to come up with such loose and irrational defintion.

Having said all of that, we all can use some compassion. As Americans, gays are entitled to engage in conducts that are legal, including their homosexual activity, but because they refuse to participate in the development of the human race through procreation, they should not be allowed to marry.

Gay marriage and the president- Really?


Aww come on! these guys are a bunch of cowards!
Well said Dr Pepper "No, it shouldn't be left up to the government at any level. It should be left to the couple in the relationship"
Why the hell should ANYONE have any say what so ever regarding who I love and want to be with??? Seriously! AND What about us binational that are forced to apart.
That is not a STATE matter, its federal so a State marriage means absolutely squat!
Thanks a lot you useless bunch of d*%k heads thanks for making my life so freaking challenging!

The US Constitution has been amended before to redefine marriage, allowing people of different color to wed. The Supreme Court at that time upheld marriage as a right of association,not as a means to procreate. Remy Marini has the right to his own opinion on this matter, however his view is not currently shared by US Supreme Court judgements to date. I believe that this issue needs to be considered in the realm of human rights. Certain faith-based organizations, whose own rights of association should always be respected, do not have the right to impose their beliefs on the general population. Other countries, including Canada, so recognize the situation. Hopefully, this discussion can continue in the spirit of mutual understanding and respect for everybody, irrespective of their opinions.

People continue to use the bible as a means to justify their bigotry and that is morally wrong!!!

The bible also says that eating shell-fish and mixing fabrics is an abomination to God and that having slaves is okay, but NO ONE pays attention to those passages!!!

Then why is it okay only to focus on the passages about homosexuality, in order to justify what is clearly discriminatory against human beings?

For all those bible quoters. As God has said we wil al be judged individually as to our deeds, thoughts, and feelings and above all by our faith. We are not judges. We were created to be believers if we so chose. And that is the beauty of God and His love. His love for us is so deep that He gave us free will.We are all free to decide what maakes us happy; as long as it does not bring harm to others.

Bill Nelson would make an excellent president.

It is so strange to me that people who are against gay marriage always bring animals into the discussion about it. If straight people are having sexual thoughts about animals, you should really form support groups to help your loved ones. It is only sensible to do that. People who want to make love with animals are sick and are trying to identify with someone, and gay people are not the ones with whom they should identify... gay people just want equality to marry another person whom they love... not an animal. Please help your mothers who have become disenchanted with your dads.

This is a constitutional issue. The constitution guarantees a separation of church and state and also states that all men are created equal. Please leave the bible out of this argument.

Sen. you are wrong but I will vote for you because if we have a vote I am sure you will vote yes.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[75] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

1st it states "that ALL men are created equal"
2nd it states "their Creator" not YOUR creator.

I would like to not that 60 years ago in several states it was illegal for a white to marry a black. 9-0 Supreme Court voted that this was wrong. This should be the same with same sex marriage.

I would like to add I'm straight and have never been married but I think everyone should have the right to be miserable and give up half their property. ;-)

I believe in Democracy and I support the right of the 50 States and US territories the right to make the decision about same sex marriage. People who have power seem to always take right of regular people’s right to vote when ever they desire change.

Also I think that Rev. Jesse Jackson like the President and Vice President are reacting to democracy in action. Many people and citizens are willing to buy many of there rights but power, money and demagoguery don't go hand and hand. Many of the states that allow same sex marriage are not sanctioned by the voters or democracy.

I for one think that Rev. Jesse Jackson’s comparing same sex marriage to slaver is not an accurate comparison given that some African Americans are gay for instance. Slavery is about not having choices while if you consider what occurred in the United States the power elites of both this country and Africa took people by force out of their native land. Once they arrived in this country they were murdered, raped and forcibly prevented from being a family. Also the emancipation of the African American was never dictated by the slave, like gay leaders are dictating the terms of same sex marriage to the rest of the United States.

President Obama and other leaders like Reverend Jesse Jackson are alarmed that the African American vote is not being influenced by their power base, so they are attempting to manipulate the African American voters into following him over the cliff in blind support of same sex marriage. I hope we become color blind on this issue and vote our conscience.

Happy Mothers Day read my poem about Mother at www.strategic-management-advocacy.com/Mother.html

This isn't about gay marriage or whether or not it's right or wrong or what Leviticus espouses or doesn't espouse or what the definition of marriage is or isn't or any of the myriad of ancillary issues. This is about standing by your friends, no matter how stupid they are, no matter what kind of stupid things they say or do.


Dumb, Dumb, and Dumb. Discrimination is brought upon by one group of society saying they are not accepted. By doing so they have brought more discrimination upon themselves. Organize straight and proud marches while we are at it.

Sen. Nelson, you are and have always been a coward. The rights of the minority has never and will never be served when left to elections by the majority. If your way of talking was correct, we would never had Civil Rights passed in the US - it took the Supreme Court to give us Civil Rights, not just the states which is a chicken's way out of taking a stand - and remember how you took no stands when running against a silly candidate like Katherine Harris, well, nothing has changed. I'm a Democratic person who would love to see a strong Dem in Florida - but is it possible when you are the candidate? I think not!

Is procreation really the ultimate scope of marriage? Are we therefore going to annul all marriages of heterosexual couples that did not procreate? It's only fair. Having children is also the most non-ecological thing we can do. With so many unfed mouths in the world why are we bringing more lives in this overcrowded planet of ours? Let's adopt instead…
If religion is an issue, let the "unions" (let's give it a different name so you will be happier) be recognized by the state only. Your church doesn't have to approve or validate. It's really none of your business. I saw many of my friends dating the wrong partner (serial cheaters; violent; drunks etc.). But who am I to forbid their relationship? Who am I to tell them what they can or cannot do? I can offer them advise but ultimately, it's their lives and their choices. And I care for them. Do you even care about me? You do not know me. You don't know what type of person I am. You only know that I am a gay man because I am trying to have my union recognized. I haven't come outside your church asking for your blessing nor I intend to. My union is accepted and recognized by my family and friends. Why do I have to seek your approval? Did you ask for mine when you picked the bible in your hands for the first time? Did you come for my advice when you decided you wanted to propose to your lover?
Look at the countries where LGBT unions are accepted by society. Where they destroyed by the wrath of God? Or did they crumble destroyed by the “sin” they incorporated in their society?
All I see is people that believe that God made them his new prophets. They have direct access to Him and He told them specifically that I DO NOT have a purpose. He told them that gay people don't feel love, they only follow primordial animal urges... That we are the devil’s children here to corrupt our sons. You know. If I had a choice I'd be heterosexual. A life of grief and abuse it's not something that I would willingly decide to take upon myself. It was God's will that I am the way that I am. Am I not made into his image? He gave me a purpose when He gave me life and to fulfill that purpose I guess I have to be gay as well as a honest law abiding, caring and loving person. He also gave me intelligence and compassion. I chose to use both and I urge you do the same.
I do forgive you. I know you feel that it's your purpose to be outraged and offended by my post and my life and my love. I can only hope that one day you’ll be able to deal with your anger and hate (not very Christian sentiments I might add) and that we can live as "one human family" happily ever after. Blessed be.

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