August 17, 2014

View, tag photos: Pridelines Youth Services 2014 Masquerade Ball at Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables

2014-08-16 Pridelines Masquerade Ball at The Biltmore 043

Pridelines Youth Services held its annual summer fundraiser Saturday night at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. The 2014 theme: Pridelines Masquerade Ball.

Posted late Saturday to Pridelines' Facebook page:

Our youth have opened their hearts tonight and laid bare their stories and how Pridelines have helped them find a safe place where they can be themselves and make friends. Their speeches touched the everyone tonight, and everyone stood up to cheer for their bravery.

Click here to tag and view a gallery from the masquerade ball. Photos by Steve Rothaus / Miami Herald Staff.

August 16, 2014

Broadway's Richard Jay-Alexander to talk Streisand, Peters and Chenoweth on Sirius XM interview

Concert director Richard Jay-Alexander of Miami Beach will appear 8 p.m. Saturday on Sirius XM's Broadway Names with Julie James.

During the interview, on Sirius XM's On Broadway channel, Jay-Alexander talks about working with Barbra Streisand, Bernadette Peters and Kristin Chenoweth.

The interview will be repeated noon on Aug. 17, 7 a.m. Aug. 20 and 9 p.m. Aug. 21.

Click here to read more about Jay-Alexander.

WNBA players Brittney Griner, Glory Johnson engaged

ASSOCIATED PRESS

PHOENIX -- Women's basketball stars Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson are engaged.

Griner proposed to Johnson and both posted it on social media, with Griner showing a photo of her on one knee with a ring in her hand in front of Johnson on her Instagram account. Griner plays for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and Johnson for the Tulsa Shock.

In the post, Griner wrote: "Last Night was a Night to Remember(,) I became the happiest person on this earth! (almost pass out but when that one word came out I came back to life) Me and my baby @missvol25 are in it for Life!"

Johnson also had a photo on her Instagram account of Griner lying in bed with an engagement ring resting on her shoulder.

Griner has embraced her role as a prominent gay athlete since finishing a record-breaking career at Baylor. She came out last year and wrote a candid memoir, "In My Skin," that was critical of college coach Kim Mulkey.

Click here to read more.

August 15, 2014

Florida Supreme Court: Let stand appeals decision reinstating lesbian as boy’s adoptive mother

BY STEVE ROTHAUS
srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

A Seminole County lesbian can remain the adoptive mother of her 6-year-old son, despite efforts by her ex-partner to have the Florida adoption revoked.

“After the couple split up, the birth mother — the biological mother — asked the court to vacate the adoption,” said Miami attorney Cristina Alonso, who helps represent the adoptive mother.

Seminole County Circuit Judge Linda D. Schoonover agreed with the birth mother and in 2013 removed the adoptive mom’s name from their son’s birth certificate. A state appeals court later reversed the decision. On Wednesday, Florida’s Supreme Court refused to hear the case, allowing the appeals court ruling to stand, said Alonso, an attorney at Carlton Fields Jorden Burt.

“Because this is an adoption proceeding, the identities of the women and their son is confidential,” Alonso said.

The women lived in Sanford, Florida and are known in court documents as C.P. and G.P. They began a committed relationship in 2005. Two years later, the couple decided they wanted to have a child and that C.P. would be the birth mother.

C.P. became pregnant via an anonymous sperm donor. During pregnancy, C.P. changed her last name so that she and the baby would all share G.P.’s surname.

G.P. was present when their son, D.P.P., was born and for the first four years of his life “was equally responsible for raising and parenting” him, according to court records. “Both C.P. and G.P. held themselves out as D.P.P.’s parents, and both were designated as the child’s parents on all medical and school-related paperwork.”

In 2011, the parents sought legal recognition as co-parents and jointly petitioned for G.P. to adopt the boy without terminating the birth mother’s rights. The adoption became final in January 2012 — shortly before the couple broke up.

“Even after they separated, they continued to co-parent the child,” Alonso said. “About a year after the adoption was granted, the birth mother decided she didn't want the adoptive mother in the child's life, so she filed a motion to vacate the adoption.”

C.P.’s rationale for revoking the adoption: that she and G.P. were not legally married and that adoption papers (erroneously) referred to G.P. as a “step-parent.”

Schoonover granted the birth mother’s request and G.P.’s name was removed from their son’s birth certificate.

G.P. appealed and in May 2014 the Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed Schoonover’s decision.

“It would be unconscionable to allow mother to invoke the jurisdiction of the court for the sole purpose of creating a parent-child relationship between her partner and her child and then to allow her to destroy that same relationship because her relationship with partner had ended,” the appeals court wrote.

Nadine Smith, executive director of LGBT-rights group Equality Florida, said she is “thrilled that the highest court in Florida has affirmed our rights as parents and families must be protected.”

Smith said this case offers “a unique complication of not having our marriages recognized.”

“This is a case where the lack of respect for our marriages means that protections that ought to be in place were not there and a lengthy court battle ensued,” Smith said.

Alonso, who also helps represent six same-sex couples seeking to wed in Miami-Dade County, said the case has now been returned to Seminole circuit court to deal with custody and visitation issues.

“The appellate ordered the trial court to treat the case like any other custody case,” Alonso said. “If they were married, this would have been a non-issue.”

Together 48 years, lesbian couple fights North Carolina same-sex marriage ban

BY MICHAEL BIESECKER
ASSOCIATED PRESS

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- On the summer night Ellen Gerber and Pearl Berlin committed to spending their lives together, the No. 1 song was "When A Man Loves A Woman."

Lyndon B. Johnson was president. NASA had just landed the first unmanned probe on the moon.

"We're still in love, after 48 years," Gerber, better known as Lennie, said recently. "We still can't begin the day without a good cuddle."

June 2, 1966, is engraved in Roman numerals on the identical gold bands the women exchanged during a religious wedding at their Greensboro synagogue last year on the anniversary of that long-ago night. They followed three months later with a civil ceremony in Maine.

But under North Carolina law, they might as well be strangers.

That's why Gerber and Berlin are the lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the state's voter-approved constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

"They can see that in us, that being gay or lesbian is just the same as being straight," Gerber said. "You just love somebody of your own sex. Otherwise, there's no difference. ... We want to be recognized for what we are — a married couple."

Click here to read more.

August 14, 2014

'Sea change': Americans revising opinions on gays, solid majority support same-sex marriage, poll finds

BY ANITA KUMAR
MCCLATCHY WASHINGTON BUREAU

WASHINGTON -- Americans are changing their minds about gays at a startling pace, driven by young people coming of age in a new era and by people of all ages increasingly familiar with gays and lesbians in their families and their lives, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll.

A solid majority support same-sex marriage, confirming the fast-turning tide that’s started appearing over the last three years. A majority say they wouldn’t be upset or very upset if a child were gay, up dramatically from a generation ago. And an overwhelming majority say it would make no difference to them if a candidate for Congress were gay, up sharply.

The sea change in attitudes is being propelled by two major forces, the poll found. First, people aged 18-29 overwhelmingly favor same-sex marriage. Second, the ranks of Americans who say they know someone who’s gay has skyrocketed over the last decade and a half. And those who know someone who’s gay are almost twice as likely to support same-sex marriage, the survey found.

“It is a sea change in attitude,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the survey. “You’d be hard-pressed to find an issue that has had a bigger shift in public opinion.”

There are still opponents. Republicans oppose same-sex marriage by better than 2-1. Tea party supporters oppose it by nearly 3-1. Those 60 and older are on the cusp, with 50 percent opposed.

Miringoff said he expected to see increases in acceptance but that the poll showed that this topic transcended other political issues that came and went. “This is really an attitudinal shift,” he said.

While gays and lesbians have pushed for decades for equal rights, public opinion has changed only in the last few years and now is changing rapidly.

Adults now support same-sex marriage by 54-38 percent. For more than a decade, only about a third of Americans supported the idea, ranging from 27 percent in 1996, as measured by the Pew Research Center, to 35 percent in 2009. Support has increased steadily since then, however. In 2011, a plurality supported same-sex marriage for the first time. And in 2013, a majority of adults said for the first time that they favored it.

The most glaring sign of changing attitudes is generational:

– Those aged 18-29 favor same-sex marriage by 75-18 percent.

– Those aged 30-44 favor it 55-38 percent.

– Those aged 45-59 favor it 49-40.

– Those aged 60 and older oppose it 50-39.

Familiarity also is changing the way people think.

By 71-27 percent, American adults say they know someone who’s gay. That’s a dramatic change from a generation ago, when a 1999 Pew poll found that Americans said by 60-39 percent that they didn’t know anyone who was gay.

In the McClatchy-Marist Poll, 52 percent said they knew more gay people now than they did a decade ago.

How people react to gays in their family also has changed.

Nearly half – 48 percent – said they wouldn’t be upset if one of their children told them they were gay, and 14 percent said they wouldn’t be very upset. Thirty-five percent said they’d be somewhat upset or very upset.

It was the opposite three decades ago. Sixty-four percent said they’d be very upset and 25 percent somewhat upset if one of their children told them they were gay, according to a Los Angeles Times survey in 1985. Five percent said they wouldn’t be very upset, and just 4 percent said they wouldn’t be upset at all.

The personal experience makes a big difference. Those who know someone who’s gay support same-sex marriage by 61-31 percent. Those who say they don’t know anyone who’s gay oppose same-sex marriage by 57-36 percent.

And while there’s been vocal opposition, the poll found that virtually any movement in public opinion has been in favor of same-sex marriage. Twelve percent of adults have switched from opposition to support; just 1 percent changed from support to opposition.

The changes also mean that Americans are much more open to voting for a gay candidate for Congress.

Eighty-three percent of adults said that whether someone was gay wouldn’t make a difference in whether they voted for that candidate. In December 1985, just 49 percent said it would make no difference, while 47 percent said they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate who was gay, according to the Los Angeles Times survey.

The changes in public opinion are changing Washington.

In 2012, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to publicly declare support for same-sex marriage. A slew of politicians have followed suit, including nearly every Democratic senator. At least three Republican senators have indicated their support, including Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who said he reversed his longtime opposition because his son is gay.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that married same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits and, by declining to decide a case from California, cleared the way for gays and lesbians to marry in that state.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage either through ballot initiatives, legislation or court rulings. Just this week, a federal appeals court refused to delay a ruling that struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage, which means couples could begin marrying there as early as next week. But at the same time, Tennessee’s same-sex marriage ban survived a court challenge, the first such ruling in more than a year.

Email: akumar@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @anitakumar01.

METHODOLOGY

This survey of 1,035 adults was conducted Aug. 4-7 by The Marist Poll sponsored in partnership with McClatchy. People 18 and older who live in the continental U.S. were interviewed by telephone using live interviewers. Landline numbers were randomly selected based on a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation from ASDE Survey Sampler Inc. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. This sample was supplemented by respondents reached through random dialing of cellphone numbers from Survey Sampling International. The two samples were then combined and balanced to reflect the 2010 census results for age, gender, income, race and region. Respondents in the household were selected by asking for the youngest male. Results are statistically significant within 3 percentage points. There are 806 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within 3.5 percentage points. The error margin increases for cross-tabulations.

Arizona State Sun Devils lineman Edward ‘Chip’ Sarafin tells magazine he's gay

BY JOHN MARSHALL
AP COLLEGE FOOTBALL WRITER

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State offensive lineman Edward Sarafin has told a local magazine he is gay, making him the first active Division I football player to come out.

A fifth-year senior, Sarafin told Phoenix-based Compete, a magazine for gay sports, that he began telling teammates about his sexual orientation last spring.

"It was really personal to me, and it benefited my peace of mind greatly," he said in the magazine's August issue.

The walk-on lineman, who goes by the nickname Chip, follows the precedent set by St. Louis Rams linebacker Michael Sam. Sam told teammates he was gay during his playing days, but did not come out publicly until after finishing his career at Missouri.

Massachusetts sophomore Derrick Gordon became the first active openly-gay Division I basketball player when he came out in April.

Brooklyn Nets forward Jason Collins became the first active openly-gay player in one of the four major U.S. professional sports leagues when he came out to Sports Illustrated in April 2013. He became the first openly-gay player to play in an NBA game after signing with the Nets last season.

Numerous other athletes have come out as gay the past couple of years, opening the door for players like Sarafin to do it without much fear of repercussions from teammates or coaches.

"The entire athletics department is extremely proud of Chip and is unequivocally supportive of him," Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson said in a statement.

Click here to read more.

‘Legal Handbook for LGBT Floridians and Families’ released by Equality Florida, law firm Carlton Fields

News release from Equality Florida:

legal handbookEquality Florida Institute is providing an electronic version of the Legal Handbook for LGBT Floridians and Their Families free of charge on their website.  Recently updated, the 76-page resource was a pro bono project of the law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, in cooperation with Equality Florida Institute.

This third edition of the Handbook is full of helpful information and pointers on the very best ways lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Floridians can legally protect themselves and their families.   Because this information is so important to protecting Florida’s families, Equality Florida Institute is making it available for download at www.EQFL.org/LegalHandbook.

Included is critical information about the importance of long-term planning related to health, family and financial considerations, and why taking steps to protect one’s family is so critical, especially for LGBT Floridians.  Many legal issues are addressed, including the implications of the Windsor decision, the current state of LGBT adoption, elder law, hate crimes, domestic partnership registries and what legal protections exist under Florida law.

“Discriminatory laws and the lack of legal protections impose hardships and complicate ordinary life for LGBT Floridians," said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida. "This vital resource is important for LGBT Floridians to understand how to protect themselves and their loved ones under the laws that currently exist.”

“In the fast-changing legal landscape, we are proud to partner with Equality Florida as they work to secure full legal equality for Florida’s LGBT community and their families,” said Nancy Faggianelli, Chief Diversity Officer of Carlton Fields Jorden Burt.

Since the handbook discusses laws and policies that may change often, particularly with regards to LGBT rights, individuals are encouraged to verify specific information with legal counsel.

August 13, 2014

Liza Minnelli on Lauren Bacall: ‘We all loved her, as she was one of a kind. I’ll miss her very much.’

"She was a great friend to my family and especially to me. We all loved her, as she was one of a kind. I'll miss her very much." -- Liza Minnelli on Lauren Bacall's passing.

Minnelli grew up knowing Bacall and her husband, Humphrey Bogart. The Bogarts were Beverly Hills neighbors of Minnelli’s mother, Judy Garland.

Garland, Bogart and Bacall were among Hollywood’s original Rat Pack members.

In addition, Liza’s father, Vincente Minnelli, directed Bacall in the films Designing Woman (1957) and The Cobweb (1955).

Gay couples in Virginia could marry within days unless U.S. Supreme Court intervenes

BY MICHAEL FELBERBAUM
ASSOCIATED PRESS

logoRICHMOND, Va. -- A federal appeals court has denied a request to delay its ruling striking down Virginia's same-sex marriage ban.

A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond on Wednesday denied the request by a county court clerk in northern Virginia to stay the decision while it is appealed to the Supreme Court.

That means that without intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, same-sex couples could begin marrying and have their out-of-state marriages recognized by next Wednesday.

Late last month, the court ruled that Virginia's gay marriage ban approved by voters in 2006 is unconstitutional.

Representatives for the defendants didn't immediately comment.

Click here for updates.