July 18, 2014

Listen now: Steve Rothaus discusses Monroe County gay-marriage ruling on The Florida Roundup

Florida-RoundupOn Friday, July 18, I appeared on WLRN 91.3FM's The Florida Roundup, to discuss this week's big gay-marriage ruling in Monroe County.

Host: Tom Hudson of WLRN-Miami Herald News.

Guests: Miami Herald journalists Steve Rothaus (@SteveRothaus); Gary Fineout of Associated Press (@fineout); Arian Campo-Flores of The Wall Street Journal (@acampoflores); John Rivera, president Dade County Police Benevolent Association (@DadeCountyPBA); and John Quick of Friends of the Miami-Dade Public Libraries.

Click here to listen.

Ruling sparks debate on retroactive marriage rights for same-sex couples not allowed to wed sooner

BY DAVE COLLINS
ASSOCIATED PRESS

HARTFORD, Conn. -- A new Connecticut Supreme Court ruling is adding to the debate on whether gay marriage rights should be applied retroactively and qualify same-sex couples for rights and benefits for which they weren't entitled before state laws allowed them to marry.

Although no states that allow gay marriage have made their laws retroactive, many same-sex partners believe they should have received Social Security survivor payments, tax breaks, inheritances and other benefits that were afforded only to heterosexual married couples before gay marriage laws were passed.

The Connecticut high court ruled unanimously Wednesday that a woman whose wife died amid a medical malpractice case may sue a doctor over the loss of her wife's companionship and income, even though that right to sue was limited to heterosexual married couples at the time. Legal experts called the decision the first of its kind in the country.

Click here to read more.

July 17, 2014

Keys judge overturns same-sex marriage ban; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to appeal

Scroll below to read Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia’s decision

BY STEVE ROTHAUS AND DAVID SMILEY
SROTHAUS@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia overturned Florida’s 2008 constitutional gay-marriage ban on Thursday, and ordered that two Key West bartenders and other gay couples seeking to wed be allowed to marry.

The judge -- overjoying gay rights advocates and outraging opponents of same-sex marriage -- ordered the Monroe County Clerk’s Office to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples Tuesday morning.

“The court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country’s proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority,” Garcia wrote in his opinion, released about 1 p.m. Thursday.

The judge gave the clerk’s office several days to prepare “in consideration of... anticipated rise in activity.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi swiftly announced she would appeal Garcia’s ruling to the Third District Court of Appeal. Her office issued a statement, saying that “with many similar cases pending throughout the entire country, finality on this constitutional issue must come from the U.S. Supreme Court.”

By filing a notice of appeal, Bondi triggered an automatic stay in the case, meaning that Garcia’s ruling is put on hold. If the stay is lifted before Tuesday, any same-sex couple can travel to the Keys that day and receive a marriage license at the county clerk’s office.

Garcia’s decision applies only to Monroe County, because it was filed in front of a state judge who has jurisdiction only in the county where he sits. A judge in Miami-Dade County has yet to rule in a similar case.

Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, who met at a gay pride celebration and have been a couple for 11 years, sued Monroe County Clerk Amy Heavilin in April for a marriage license, saying Florida’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. They told The Miami Herald Thursday that they’re “ecstatic.”

“I can’t believe it finally happened,” said Jones. “Love is love. It doesn’t matter if it’s a guy and woman or two women or two men. Love is love.”

In response to the ruling, gay rights advocates began planning parties from Key West to Tallahassee. Conservatives vowed to fight on to uphold the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Anthony Verdugo, executive director of the Christian Family Coalion, called the ruling a “corrupt decision,” and a judicial lynching of nearly 8 million Florida voters” who voted to ban same-sex marriage in 2008.

John Stemberger, who led that campaign to define marriage in Florida as being between one man and one woman, said he would keep fighting.

“This is an issue worth dying for,” he said. “Every domestic partnership, every single civil union, every couple that cohabitates, these arrangements dilute and devalue marriage.”

Stemberger said he wasn’t “daunted” by Garcia’s ruling, nor was he surprised.

“The court was very hostile to our position,” said Stemberger, president and general counsel of the conservative Florida Family Policy Council in Orlando. “This is a very sad day for Floridians. This is an entirely illegitimate process. The judge had no legal authority in this decision.”

Florida’s Democratic Party embraced the ruling.

“As we have seen time and time again over the last few months, when marriage equality bans are challenged in the courts, love wins,” Party Chair Allison Tant said in a statement. “This is a tremendous victory for LGBT Floridians in Monroe County, and we look forward to soon celebrating full marriage equality across the state.”

Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist followed with his own statement: “Today was a great step towards equality in Florida. It is my hope that Governor Scott and Attorney General [Pam] Bondi will accept the decision of the judge and allow all Florida adults to marry the person they love.”

The Monroe case mirrors the suit in Miami-Dade, in which six same-sex couples and LGBT advocacy group Equality Florida Institute sued County Clerk Harvey Ruvin for the right to marry. In both cases, Florida Assistant Attorney General Adam Tanenbaum argued that the judges should not dismiss Florida’s constitutional gay marriage ban, which passed in 2008 with the support of 62 percent of voters. The state, citing a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, contended that the definition of marriage belongs exclusively to the state and is exempt from federal scrutiny.

“It remains for this court simply to respect the policy decision made by voters,” Tanenbaum told Garcia at a hearing for summary judgment on July 7 in Plantation Key.

But in his ruling, Garcia rejected the state’s position, saying changes in society and case law have made same-sex marriage a federal question.

“This court concludes that a citizen’s right to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to the individual,” Garcia wrote.

In Miami-Dade, Judge Sarah Zabel has yet to rule on whether to allow the plaintiffs to wed or go to trial in their suit against Clerk Harvey Ruvin. The six couples are Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello of Coconut Grove; Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price of Davie; Vanessa and Melanie Alenier of Hollywood; Todd and Jeff Delmay of Hollywood; Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber of Plantation; and Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz of Miami.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Elizabeth Schwartz, said she’s filing Garcia’s decision with Zabel so that she can consider the opinion. She called the ruling “another nail in the coffin of Florida’s unfair marriage ban.”

“We are hopeful we will see a similar ruling by Zabel very soon,” said Schwartz.

The gay-marriage battle is being waged across the nation. A federal judge last week ruled Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. According to the group Freedom to Marry, LGBT advocates have won 23 times in federal, state and appellate courts since June 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a key portion of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Last year, Supreme Court justices determined the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages, but did not address whether state marriage bans are legal.

Conservative activists in Florida, who campaigned six years ago for the constitutional gay marriage ban, have fought to keep it in place.

The groups were not allowed to join the Miami-Dade and Monroe cases as defendants. Instead, Garcia and Zabel allowed them to speak as friends of the court.

“The plaintiffs’ argument with regard to same-sex marriage has no boundaries,” Mathew Staver, founder of the conservative Liberty Counsel, told Garcia. “The plaintiffs’ argument is not to just redefine marriage to include two people of the same sex, the implications of that is if you include two people of the same sex, then why can’t you have a person of the opposite sex, that also brings in a same-sex partner into the marriage.”

On Thursday, Jones called Staver’s comments -- including a legal argument that included a graphic written description of heterosexual and homosexual sex acts -- “very hateful and very hurtful.” His attorney, Elena Vigil-Fariñas, said in court that Staver’s legal argument — which included a graphic written description of heterosexual and homosexual sex acts — “embarrassed” her.

“I’m embarrassed to have a member of the bar write something like this as an excuse to support the bigotry of the voters of Florida,” Vigil-Fariñas said. “Because in his mind, this court should allow mob rule. If the majority — the one that has the most money, the one that has the most position — don’t like a certain segment of society like our friends over here, they get to rule. And you don’t get to even evaluate whether it’s even constitutional.”

Vigil-Fariñas, who argued the case with law partner Bernadette Restivo, asked the judge, “What would this state be like if we allowed mob rule?”

“Today, it’s against Aaron and Lee. Tomorrow it could be against me. I wasn’t born here,” added Vigil-Fariñas, who is from Cuba.

After the hearing, Staver seemed outraged that Tanenbaum spoke for about five minutes at each of the South Florida hearings, and never actually argued in favor of the gay marriage ban.

Staver said Tanenbaum’s boss, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, “is giving only window dressing to the Florida Marriage Amendment.”

If Bondi “does not want to present a vigorous defense, she owes it to the voters of Florida to step down and allow someone else to represent the interests of the State,” Staver said in a news release.

Miami Herald reporter Kathleen McGrory contributed to this report.

Aaron R Huntsman v Amy Heavilin - Order on Mtn for Summary Judgment

Keys judge: Gay couples can marry, but not before Tuesday

BY STEVE ROTHAUS
SROTHAUS@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia overturned Florida’s 2008 constitutional gay-marriage ban on Thursday, and ordered that two Key West bartenders be allowed to wed but not before Tuesday.

Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, who met at a gay pride celebration and have been a couple for 11 years, sued Monroe County Clerk Amy Heavilin in April for a marriage license. Their case mirrors a similar suit in Miami-Dade County, in which six same-sex couples and LGBT advocacy group Equality Florida Institute sued County Clerk Harvey Ruvin for the right to marry.

In both cases, Florida Assistant Attorney General Adam Tanenbaum argued that Garcia and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel should not dismiss Florida’s constitutional gay marriage ban, which passed in 2008 with the support of 62 percent of voters.

“It remains for this court simply to respect the policy decision made by voters,” Tanenbaum told Garcia at a hearing for summary judgment on July 7 in Plantation Key.

Zabel has yet to rule on whether to allow the Miami-Dade plaintiffs to wed or go to trial in their suit against Ruvin. The six couples are Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello of Coconut Grove; Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price of Davie; Vanessa and Melanie Alenier of Hollywood; Todd and Jeff Delmay of Hollywood; Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber of Plantation; and Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz of Miami.

The gay-marriage battle is being waged across the nation. A federal judge last week ruled Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. According to the group Freedom to Marry, LGBT advocates have won 23 times in federal, state and appellate courts since June 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a key portion of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Last year, Supreme Court justices determined the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages, but did not address whether state marriage bans are legal.

Conservative activists in Florida, who campaigned six years ago for the constitutional gay marriage ban, have fought to keep it in place.

The groups were not allowed to join the Miami-Dade and Monroe cases as defendants. Instead, Garcia and Zabel allowed them to speak as friends of the court.

“The plaintiffs’ argument with regard to same-sex marriage has no boundaries,” Mathew Staver, founder of the conservative Liberty Counsel, told Garcia. “The plaintiffs’ argument is not to just redefine marriage to include two people of the same sex, the implications of that is if you include two people of the same sex, then why can’t you have a person of the opposite sex, that also brings in a same-sex partner into the marriage.”

Monroe plaintiffs’ co-counsel Elena Vigil-Fariñas told Garcia that Staver’s legal argument — which included a graphic written description of heterosexual and homosexual sex acts — “embarrassed” her.

“I’m embarrassed to have a member of the bar write something like this as an excuse to support the bigotry of the voters of Florida,” Vigil-Fariñas said. “Because in his mind, this court should allow mob rule. If the majority — the one that has the most money, the one that has the most position — don’t like a certain segment of society like our friends over here, they get to rule. And you don’t get to even evaluate whether it’s even constitutional.”

Vigil-Fariñas, who argued the case with law partner Bernadette Restivo, asked the judge, “What would this state be like if we allowed mob rule?”

“Today, it’s against Aaron and Lee. Tomorrow it could be against me. I wasn’t born here,” added Vigil-Fariñas, who is from Cuba.

After the hearing, Staver seemed outraged that Tanenbaum spoke for about five minutes at each of the South Florida hearings, and never actually argued in favor of the gay marriage ban.

Staver said Tanenbaum’s boss, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, “is giving only window dressing to the Florida Marriage Amendment.”

If Bondi “does not want to present a vigorous defense, she owes it to the voters of Florida to step down and allow someone else to represent the interests of the State,” Staver said in a news release.

‘Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy’ performers come out singing, dancing, juggling and contorting

BY STEVE ROTHAUS
srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Neil Goldberg, founder and artistic director of Pompano Beach-based Cirque Dreams, grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household and never quite fit in.

“They wanted me to be a lawyer. I come from that typical Jewish family. Four siblings. My older brother is a doctor, my younger brother is in finance. My sister married a successful entrepreneur. And I came out singing and dancing and painting and producing,” he says. “That was my thing.”

On Tuesday, Goldberg gets to do his thing at home: Cirque Dreams, an international entertainment brand with 13 companies, settles into the Broward Center for the Performing Arts for a six-day run. Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy has been performed more than 2,000 times since 2007, including a monthlong run at the Broadway Theatre in New York.

It’s an elaborate production, to say the least. “There are 25 cast members on stage; obviously another dozen technical managers behind the scenes,” Goldberg says. “The unique thing people will find with the show: These 25 artists in two hours perform 16 acts. It’s quite a thing for people to see visually.”

The Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy website describes the show as a “theatrical, acrobatic and musical adventure” featuring aerialists, contortionists, acrobats, jugglers and musicians.

Goldberg, 60, says his own acrobatic days are mostly behind him. “I feel like I’m 30, but sometimes my bones remind me, when I’m on my hands and knees and bouncing on a trampoline, my bones remind me. At night it’s Aleve and hot baths.”

After he graduated from college about 40 years ago, Goldberg moved from his native New York to South Florida.

“Most people know me by my former company, Parties by Neil,” Goldberg says. “In the 1980s, I produced, besides thousands of bar mitzvahs and weddings, openings of Bloomingdales and the original Joe Robbie Stadium.” He also created “hospitality villages” for two Super Bowls in Miami.

He drifted further from his Orthodox Jewish roots, working most Friday nights and Saturdays and serving non-kosher food at parties and events.

“I had to come to terms with my own inner beliefs and my aspirations,” he says.

By the early 1990s, Goldberg had “a lot of corporate clients.”

“IBM hired me to produce an international entertainment show for one of the high-end conferences at the Breakers in Palm Beach,” he says.

To cast the show, Goldberg says, he traveled the world searching for talent. The result: Cirque Du Monde, his first acrobatic extravaganza, which he describes as “a blending of circus, theater and imagination.”

Goldberg then launched his first touring show, Cirque Ingenieux. Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal-based show-business Goliath, sued him in 1996, claiming trademark infringement.

“That battle lasted six years. I prevailed,” Goldberg says. “What most people don’t know today, there are so many companies that use the word ‘Cirque’ in their titles. It’s only the result of my sustaining that lawsuit and prevailing. Everyone else ran for the hills or disappeared. No one wanted to take on the battle. It’s a generic word. The French for ‘circus.’ It would be like someone trying to copywrite the word ‘circus.’”

Cirque Dreams is a privately owned “global brand that has sold multimillion dollars worth of tickets throughout the world,” Goldberg says.

His Dream Studios in Pompano Beach is a 25,000-square-foot complex with 30 full-time employees, including seamstresses, designers and a full costume and wardrobe plant. There is a 10,000-square-foot stage where performers “rehearse and tech the shows,” he says.

“We have full-time coaches and choreographers. All of our administration is done in the complex. We are our own in-house travel agency. Besides acquiring visas from 20 different countries on a yearly basis, we’re moving hundreds of people a week. We also employ full-time sales people in charge of business development and brand partnerships.”

Cirque Dreams & Dinner has become a permanent show aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Epic and Breakaway ships. This summer, Cirque Dreams Splashtastic is being performed at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in San Francisco.

Goldberg, who is single with a grown son and daughter and two young granddaughters, started the Neil Goldberg Dream Foundation in 2009. “We look for artistic, youthful organizations around the country that need financial support,” he says.

Last week, 36 Florida children ages 10 through 15 participated in the Cirque Dreams Kid Time two-day camp at the Broward Center.

“There are eight different teachers giving about a dozen master classes, including the state school of contortion in Mongolia and the Moscow Circus,” Goldberg says. “It’s quite immersive. Last night, when they left they looked like wrung-out hand cloths. They were dripping wet. It was very cute to see them all.”

Kalli Rogers, 15, a 10th grader at Cooper City High, said she had “an amazing experience” at camp. “I got to meet the Contortion Sisters.”

The Contortion Sisters of Mongolia, (Erdensuvd Dunn and Buyankhishig Ganbaatar) are longtime performers of Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy who in June competed on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.

“It looks so cool, said Sophia McDonald, 9, a fourth-grader at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church & School who learned to juggle and hula hoop at camp.

Kellie Kessling, 11, of Davie, won a competition to perform this week in Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy at Broward Center.

“I’m going to be performing as a grasshopper,” says Kellie, a sixth grader at Franklin Academy in Cooper City.

Kellie says her postive attitude helped with the competition. “I used to say all the time I can’t, but my dance teacher told me not to and it helps me get better and better every day.”

Goldberg, who led the camp auditions, says he knew almost immediately Kellie would be the chosen performer.

“In the first day of the camp, within the first couple of hours, her spirit captured my attention,” Goldberg says. “By the end of the program, this kid was like a dynamo. Her stage presence, Her personality. When she spoke at the end, that was a director’s dream.”

Goldberg, who divides time between homes in Pompano Beach, Fort Myers and Manhattan, said he has no regrets not being on stage himself.

“I really have no desire to do it. I’m shy. I know it doesn’t come across that way because of the empire I built,” he says. “Performing for the sake of performing for people to clap or be entertained, that really isn’t my thing.”

IF YOU GO

What: “Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy”

Where: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Cost: Tickets $34.50 to $74.50. www.browardcenter.org or 954-462-0222

Some social conservatives, LGBT activists oppose gay Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio

BY KEVIN FREKING
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- Carl DeMaio figures he must be doing something right if both social conservatives and members of the gay rights community oppose him.

"It means you're right in the middle where the American people are," DeMaio, who is gay, said in a recent interview.

Running for Congress in a district almost evenly divided among Democrats, Republicans and independents, DeMaio gives the GOP one of its best chances for winning a Democratic-controlled House seat, this one in the San Diego area.

But the gay rights community leans heavily Democratic, and the Human Rights Campaign endorsed the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Scott Peters. Meanwhile, the socially conservative Family Research Council and others weighed in during the primary with mailers, robocalls and radio ads to boost the prospects of another Republican. The conservative groups are expected to stand down for the general election but haven't made a firm commitment about their plans.

Across the country, the two other gay Republicans, Dan Innis of New Hampshire and Richard Tisei of Massachusetts, have so far avoided being targeted by social conservatives as they prepare for September primaries.

Click here to read more.

July 16, 2014

Freedom to Marry pressures Miami’s Regalado to join 35 Florida mayors in support of gay marriage

Freedom to Marry announces that 35 mayors from throughout Florida now support the rights of same-sex couples to marry, including Tallahassee Mayor John Marks.

Marks appears in a new video for Freedom to Marry:

Tallahassee Mayor John Marks shares why he supports the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. "This is the right thing to do. Individuals have rights and freedoms, and we need to allow everybody to have those same rights and those same freedoms."

“Our list in Florida is the largest of all 31 states that don't yet have marriage for same-sex couples – and with a ruling expected soon in one of two Florida lawsuits in state court, we think this support makes a big difference in putting the pressure on the judges,” Freedom to Marry spokeswoman Angela Dallara writes in an email to me.

“Notably, while one of the Florida marriage cases comes out of Miami, our list does not include Miami's Republican Mayor Tomás Pedro Regalado,” Dallara writes.

Here’s the complete Freedom to Marry news release about the 35 mayors:

Florida Mayors for the Freedom to Marry Surge
Bipartisan list grows to 35 in the state, 450 nationally

New York – As we await rulings in multiple marriage cases making their way through courts in Florida,Southerners for the Freedom to Marry – in partnership with Equality Florida – announced the addition of several new mayors across the Sunshine State who support marriage for same-sex couples. They include Marni Sawicki of Cape Coral, Sam Henderson of Gulfport, and Claire Schubert of Hillsboro Beach. In addition, John Marks of Tallahassee is featured in a new web ad about his support for marriage.

The list of 35 Florida mayors – representing Orlando, Key West, St. Petersburg, Lake Worth, and Miami Beach – can be found here. Of the 31 states where gay couples are barred from marrying, Florida has the highest number of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Four of the 35 are Republicans.

Southerners for the Freedom to Marry is a project of Freedom to Marry.

“Americans have come to understand that it is wrong to exclude loving, committed gay couples from marriage – and a stunning 57% of Floridians agree," said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. "Florida mayors are making the case that ending marriage discrimination is the right thing for America, for their communities, for business and the economy, and for the tens of thousands of same-sex couples who call Florida home. Marriage strengthens families and communities, and it's time to end marriage discrimination in Florida, and in America, once and for all."
A supermajority of Americans support the freedom to marry, including a majority of young evangelicals and Republicans under 45.

Other Florida Mayors for the Freedom to Marry include: Buddy Dyer of Orlando, Craig Cates of Key West, Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg, Cindy Lerner of Pinecrest, Jeri Muoio of West Palm Beach, Harry Dressler of Tamarac, Philip Levine of Miami Beach, Lisa Aronson of Coconut Creek, Peter Bober of Hollywood, Joy Cooper of Hallandale Beach, David Coviello of Biscayne Park, Richard Kaplan of Lauderhill, Shari McCartney of Oakland Park, Russ Barley of Freeport, Sue Lynn of Anna Maria, Daniel Dietch of Surfside, Lesa Peerman of Margate, Pat Gerard of Largo, Connie Leon Kreps of North Bay Village, Teresa Zemaitis of Kenneth City, Rob Downey of Melbourne Village, Phillip K. Stoddard of South Miami, Ashira Mohammed of Pembroke Park, Lori Moseley of Miramar, Frank Ortis of Pembroke Pines, Judy Paul of Davie, Gary Resnick of Wilton Manors, Michael Ryan of Sunrise, Barbara Sharief of Broward County, Pam Trioloof of Lake Worth, and Michael Udine of Parkland.

Florida's mayors are part of a national list of approximately 450 mayors who support the freedom to marry. The full list can be found here.

Millions watch Bollywood-inspired United Nations music video on LGBT rights

ASSOCIATED PRESS

UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations says a Bollywood-inspired United Nations music video promoting equal rights for gays, lesbians, transgender people and bisexuals has been watched by more than one million people online and millions more on television since its release on April 30.

Charles Radcliffe of the U.N. Human Rights Office said Tuesday that for the United Nations the novel approach has "paid off."

The 2 ½-minute video stars Indian actress Celina Jaitly, who was named a U.N. Equality Champion by human rights chief Navi Pillay last year for her support for LGBT rights.

Jaitly said Tuesday that she has been "overwhelmed by the positive response."

She said the video is aimed at promoting the difficult conversations that promote change "in a wonderful light hearted way through the universal language of music."

July 15, 2014

Major League Baseball appoints gay former Miami Beach resident Billy Bean consultant for inclusion

BY DAVE CAMPBELL
AP SPORTS WRITER

MINNEAPOLIS -- Major League Baseball has appointed former outfielder Billy Bean, who came out as gay after his playing career, to serve as a consultant in guiding the sport toward greater inclusion and equality.

Commissioner Bud Selig made the announcement Tuesday before the All-Star game.

Joining Bean and Selig at a news conference was Lutha Burke, the sister of Glenn Burke, who was the first MLB player to come out as gay after retiring. Burke died in 1995.

Bean will provide guidance and training related to efforts designed to support the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community throughout baseball. He'll work with players and front office personnel through the major and minor leagues.

Bean played for Detroit, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego over parts of six seasons and hit .226. He dedicated his autobiography to Burke.

Unity Coalition President Herb Sosa named to 2014 41 List by Honor 41, a national Latina/o LGBTQ site

Herb Sosa, president of Unity Coalition, Miami-Dade County’s leading Hispanic LGBT group, has been named to the 2014 41 List by Honor 41.

From the Honor 41 website:

Honor 41 is a national Latina/o LGBTQ online, 501 c3 non-profit organization that promotes positive images of our community, creates awareness about our issues and builds an online family/community.

The word “Honor” means pride in English and Spanish.

The number 41 has a derogatory connotation in Mexican culture. For over 100 years calling someone “41” or associating anyone or anything with that number labeled them maricon/joto which in English translates to calling someone faggot/gay.

By adopting 41 in our name, we take away the negative, oppressive power associated to the number; we educate others about this important moment in LGBTQ history; we honor their legacy; and honor our own lives and contributions to society.

Here’s the complete list of 2014 honorees (alphabetical order):

Felipe Agredano
Daniel Armando
Erika Carlsen
Ruby Corado
Lazaro Lola Veronica Concepcion
Rafael Cosio
Rafael De Arce
Brenda Del Rio Gonzalez
Alejandro Escoto
Daniel Garza
Billy Gil and Erik Jimenez
Ralfka Gonzalez
Silvia "Biby" Gonzalez
Gibran Guido
Dan Guerrero
Luis Gutierrez-Mock
Ari Gutierrez
Jose Gutierrez
Helen Jaramillo
Yojanse Jimenez
Camilo Julian
Zoey and Ofelia
Angel J. Martinez
Joel Martinez and Xavier Mejia
Mekahlo Medina
Maria Mejia
Elizabeth Mendia
Jonathan B. Menendez
Marlon Morales
Monica Palacios
Alfredo Pedroza
David Perez
Anacelly Quintana-McKinney
Edgar Quiñones Cervantes
George Raya
Ignacio Rivera
Victoria Ruiz
Johanna Saavedra
Diego Sepulveda
Herb Sosa
Rosie Trejo