Click here to view a gallery. Photos by Abraham Galvan / South Florida News Service.
June 23, 2014 in AIDS and Health, Bisexual, Business, Current Affairs, Fashion, Florida, Food and Drink, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, Media, Palm Beach County, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)
BY JOSH LEDERMAN
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration will work to ensure that gay and lesbian Americans are eligible to take leave from their jobs to care for a same-sex spouse, regardless of whether they live in a state that recognizes gay marriage, the White House said Friday.
President Barack Obama is directing the Labor Department to start drafting rules making clear that the Family and Medical Leave Act applies to same-sex couples, allowing gay and lesbian employees to take unpaid leave to care for a sick spouse regardless of where they live. The move comes three years after the Obama administration stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which lets states refuse to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.
The White House is promoting the move as part of Obama's push to expand protections for gays and lesbians by allowing same-sex couples to take advantage of the same federal benefits available to married heterosexual couples.
To that end, the Justice Department also plans to announce it has completed a review that Obama ordered to assess what legal benefits can be extended to gay couples. Already, Obama has moved to ensure gay couples have equal access to health insurance, immigration privileges and tax benefits, the White House said.
But the White House said there are a few benefits that current law prohibits the federal government from granting to same-sex couples. Hoping to end that limitation, the Obama administration is calling on Congress to pass legislation removing those prohibitions.
Democratic members of Congress already have introduced bills expanding protections for gays and lesbians related to Social Security and veterans' benefits, the White House said.
BY ABRAHAM GALVAN
South Florida News Service
For LGBT pride month, Out of the Closet thrift stores throughout South Florida are giving away five new Vespa scooters to encourage HIV testing.
“The mission is for more individuals, gay men in particular, get tested and know their status,” said Will Acosta, 25, assistant manager of Out of the Closet in Wilton Manors. “This will promote safer sex and prevention of catching HIV.”
When customers walk in, they are encouraged to get tested, hoping to win a new Vespa.
Out of the Closet is a national subsidiary of Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation. There are four South Florida locations and each will give away a Vespa valued at $4,800. The scooters are on display inside the thrift stores.
To qualify and get a chance to win, contestants need to get one-minute HIV tests in any of the four locations or at one of Out of the Closet's mobile testing units through June 29. Anyone over 18 with a valid Florida driver license is eligible.
In Wilton Manors, a fifth drawing will be held for one Vespa at 7 p.m. Saturday outside the store during the Stonewall Pride Street Festival. Winners must be present. If not, another ticket will be drawn.
The festival is noon to 11 p.m. and extends from Northeast 20th Street north to Wilton Drive and Dixie Highway. A pride parade along Wilton Drive begins 7 p.m.
Participants who get HIV tested during the Stonewall festival will be eligible to win Saturday night.
Drawings for the four remaining Vespas will take place on June 30. The winners will be contacted by phone.
“I had no idea this sweepstakes was taking place,” said customer David Wilson, 26, who decided to attend the weekend festivities after learning of the drawing.
Acosta said the festival will attract people from all over Florida and the nation, bringing more HIV awareness.
Carlos Rios, 23, a regular customer, agrees.
“I've already been tested recently but still will be attending the festivities in support of this cause,” Rios said.
IF YOU GO
What: Out of the Closet thrift stores' one-minute HIV testing
When: Testing hours inside the stores from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through June 29.
Where: 2097 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors; 1785 E. Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale; 1510 Alton Rd. Miami Beach; and 2900 Biscayne Blvd, Miami.
For more information, visit www.outofthecloset.org
For more information about the Stonewall Pride Festival and Parade, visit www.stonewallpridewiltonmanors.com.
June 19, 2014 in AIDS and Health, Bisexual, Business, Current Affairs, Florida, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, Media, Miami & Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Palm Beach County, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)
Listen now: Steve Rothaus discusses Charlie Crist, transgender healthcare on WLRN's 'Florida Roundup'
I appeared Friday, June 13, 2014, on WLRN 91.3FM's The Florida Roundup.
Among the hot topics discussed: Equality Florida Action PAC and Human Rights Campaign endorsing Democrat Charlie Crist for governor and Miami Beach granting transgender healthcare insurance coverage to trans city employees.
Hosts: Tom Hudson and Alicia Zuckerman of WLRN-Miami Herald News
Guests: Miami Herald reporters Steve Rothaus, Patricia Mazzei, Greg Cote, David Ovalle, Tim Padgett of WLRN-Miami Herald News and Sibylla Brodzinsky, who writes for the Economist and Guardian.
BY STEVE ROTHAUS
Miami Beach commissioners Wednesday voted to provide city employees with transgender healthcare insurance, making the Beach one of only 5 percent of all U.S. cities and municipalities to offer the benefit and the first in Florida.
“That’s something that really puts Miami Beach in the forefront in Florida for transgender rights,” said trans-rights activist and resident Aryah Lester. “For that to happen here shows Miami Beach is pushing forward, period, for equality.”
Beginning in October, transgender Beach employees will be insured for treatments including gender-reassignment surgery, hormone and psychological therapy. Voice therapy and cosmetic procedures including hair removal would not be covered.
“It would cover the transition from male to female, female to male,” said Thomas Barker, chairman of Miami Beach’s GLBT Business Enhancement Committee, which lobbied for the insurance. “The commission has directed the city manager’s office to provide transgender healthcare benefits in the next open enrollment.”
Transgender surgeries from 2001 through 2008 in the U.S. cost an average of $10,400 for male to female; $17,000 for female to male, according to Williams Institute at the University of California law school. “These figures are based on 740 male to female surgeries and 430 female to male surgeries, providing an average combined cost of $12,900 per surgery,” according to a commission memo from City Manager Jimmy Morales.
“These healthcare costs aren’t more expensive than pregnancy or cardiac care or any other number of health care costs that are expensive but critical,” said Cathryn Oakley of Human Rights Campaign (HRC) of Washington, D.C., the nation’s largest LGBT-rights group.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Commissioner Joy Malakoff the entire commission supported the policy change, which passed unanimously. Commissioner Edward Tobin was absent.
“Our city is really pro LGBT. It’s important for us not to be pro LGBT by word, but more importantly by action,” Levine said after the commission meeting. “Miami Beach, we want to make it the most progressive, pragmatic in America. These types of initiatives are part of that vision and our mandate.”
Also Wednesday, Levine sponsored a motion that Miami Beach support same-sex couples seeking to marry or have their out-of-state marriages recognized in Florida.
No other cities in Florida offer transgender healthcare benefits, according to the annual Municipal Equality Index published by HRC. “It’s an elite universe,” said Oakley, HRC’s legislative counsel for state and municipal advocacy, who authors the index.
The report, ranking 291 major American cities, has been published since 2012. Miami Beach was not included in the first two indexes, infuriating LGBT civic leaders. The business enhancement committee completed its own survey this year and self-submitted it. In April, HRC awarded the city a perfect score.
In the first two years of the index, transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits were not mandatory for a municipality to receive a perfect score. Beginning in 2014, they will be, Oakley said.
“Which means cities will now be dinged for not having them,” she said.
Now, Miami Beach is on its way to another perfect score.
“It’s something that is so amazing to me. It’s needed and long overdue,” Lester said. “It’s less of a struggle to just live as a person in the community.”
June 11, 2014 in AIDS and Health, Bisexual, Business, Current Affairs, Florida, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Key West & Monroe County, Lesbian, LGBT, Media, Miami & Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)
BY JOSEFA VELASQUEZ
ALBANY, N.Y. -- A proposed ban against New York health professionals trying to change a child's sexual orientation through therapy comes too late for Matthew Shurka, a 26-year-old Long Island man who says he remains emotionally scarred from five years of attempts to "cure" his homosexuality.
"My anxiety was at its worst," Shurka said of the therapy that began when he was 16. "I never attempted suicide, but I had a lot of suicidal thoughts and dreams and thinking about it, considering it."
The American Psychological Association says that there is no evidence that the so-called gay conversion therapy can change someone's sexual orientation. A task force set up by the group found that it can cause distress and anxiety.
New York's Democratic-led Assembly is set to consider a bill on Wednesday that would ban the therapy on minors. Bans against gay conversion therapy have already gone into law in New Jersey and California. A proposed ban was voted down in Illinois in April.
Having a baby alters new mothers’ brain activity, researchers have found, and a new study adds the first evidence of such changes in the brains of gay men raising children they conceived through surrogacy.
The men’s pattern of brain activity resembles that of both new mothers and new fathers in the study.
The research, reported on Monday, could feed into the debate over whether gay men should be allowed to adopt children. Many U.S. adoption agencies will not work with same-sex couples, and some states prohibit them from adopting.
The current study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted in Israel, and builds on work by neuropsychologist Ruth Feldman of Bar-Ilan University and others, who showed that the brains of new mothers become hyper-reactive to their child’s cries and other emotional cues.
Protest over Jamaica university firing AIDS doctor who testified on behalf of anti-sodomy church groups
BY DAVID MCFADDEN
KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Religious activists, students and colleagues gathered outside Jamaica's biggest university Monday to protest the firing of an HIV expert who testified on behalf of church groups defending an anti-sodomy law.
Dozens of protesters said the Jamaica campus of the University of the West Indies punished Dr. Brendan Bain for expressing his opinion as an expert witness in the Belize case. "This is a free speech issue and it's a truth issue," said Dr. Doreen Brady-West, an oncologist in the university's faculty of medical sciences.
Bain, a retired professor who was removed as head of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training Network, did not attend the protest and has not commented on his firing.
Last week, the university announced it had fired Bain. It said he had a right "to provide expert testimony in the manner he did," but added that it had become evident Bain lost the support of "a significant sector of the community" served by the HIV prevention group.
Roughly 30 civil society groups that work on HIV prevention issues in the Caribbean had been denouncing Bain's 2012 testimony as an expert witness in a constitutional challenge to a Belize anti-sodomy law dating from 1861. He submitted written testimony at the invitation of church groups defending the law, and critics contended his intervention conflicted with his role as a leader in regional HIV prevention.
The university said it terminated Bain's contract because many authorities felt his testimony contributed "to the continued criminalization and stigmatization" of gay sex.
Care Resource announces free volunteer HIV testing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at Miami Beach City Hall.
Here are the details from Jonathan Welsh, Care Resource’s marketing and development manager:
Attending the health initiative at 2:00pm is Dr. Robert Gallo. Dr. Gallo is an eminent scientist who co-discovered HIV as the cause of AIDS and developed the HIV blood test in 1984. He is currently the founder and director of the IHV, established to create and develop a world-class center of excellence focusing on chronic viral diseases, especially HIV/AIDS and virally-linked cancers.
At 5:30pm, he will be recognized at Miami Beach City Hall by Miami Beach Commissioner Micky Steinberg.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 125,000 people in Florida are believed to be living with HIV. Moreover, Miami- Dade County is ranked number one in the nation with the highest number of new AIDS cases per capita and second in the nation with the number of children with AIDS.
Early detection, tracking of referrals, and the linkage and retention of prevention/care is critical to HIV management and reducing/stopping the spread of the virus.
Miami Beach City Hall is located at 700 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139.
Singing star Connie Francis spoke Memorial Day Weekend in Miami about the plight of homeless veterans.
Francis and Florida Veterans Foundation Inc. organized a three-day "Stand Down" event for about 300 veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
"Can you just imagine, you come home with PTSD, you have no home no family, no nothing," said Francis, the top-selling female singer of the 1950s and '60s. "This is a terrible, terrible situation."
Participants lived in tents set up by local fire, police and active duty military volunteers. The veterans and their families also had access to medical care, housing assistance, counseling and employment and legal services. They got hot meals, showers, clean clothes and haircuts.
Francis addressed the veterans Saturday night. She says she plans to work with Miami's mayor on efforts to help veterans.
According to the Florida Veterans Foundation, the weekend event is part of a national, grassroots effort to help an estimated 59,000 homeless veterans in the U.S.
Francis' signature song is Where the Boys Are, the title track to the 1960 hit filmed in Fort Lauderdale. The 75-year-old singer says she's been passionate about veterans' causes since she was 10 years old and her parents would drive her to the homes of returning troops so she could sing and play the accordion.