October 20, 2016

Prominent gay-rights group backs Joe Garcia against Curbelo

NP-JoeGarcia-LBGT-SAVE-102016-006 Joe Garcia DS


A key LBGT organization in South Florida on Thursday endorsed Joe Garcia in his bid to win back from Rep. Carlos Curbelo the House seat that the Miami Republican wrested from him two years ago.

The Miami-based SAVE group, formed in 1993, said it was supporting the Miami Democrat because of his work advocating equality.

"During his term as congressman, Joe served South Florida's LGBTQ community admirably, garnering SAVE's Champion of Equality Award in 2013 for his sponsorship of the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act and his efforts to protect LBGT immigration rights," SAVE said in a statement.

Long before joining the House in January 2013, the group noted that Garcia had led the Cuban American National Foundation, which he then headed, in opposing the repeal of Miami-Dade's human-rights ordinance.

Once in Congress, Garcia served as vice chairman of the LGBT Equality Caucus. He helped pass bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which extended protects against rape and domestic violence to members of the LBGT community.

"One of my guiding principles is that every person should be treated equally," Garcia said Thursday. "That's why I'm honored that SAVE would recognize my work in support of the LGBTQ community."

SAVE's endorsement of Garcia came six days after Log Cabin Republicans, an influential GOP gay-rights group, endorsed Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo of South Florida in their re-election races, along with five other incumbent lawmakers from across the country.



October 14, 2016

Major GOP LBGT group backs South Florida lawmakers



Log Cabin Republicans on Friday endorsed Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo in their re-election races, along with five other incumbent lawmakers from across the country.

The advocacy group, which believes that equality for LBGT people is in the best traditions of the Republican Party, said the seven newly endorsed representatives "have been steadfast allies of LBGT freedom" in the House of Representatives.

"All of these common-sense conservatives have not only spoken out in support of equality, but also cast votes in the 114th Congress that confirm their commitment to the cause," Gregory T. Angelo, head of Log Cabin Republicans, said.

Ros-Lehtinen, running for her 15th term against Miami small business owner Scott Furhman, expressed gratitude for the endorsement.

"I will continue to promote inclusiveness and ensure the fair and equal treatment of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender," she said.

Curbelo is running for his second House term against Joe Garcia, the former congressman he defeated two years ago.

"In Congress, I have been proud to stand up for equality," Curbelo said. "I am honored to have the support of Republicans who understand that equality can never be a partisan issue."

For more information about Log Cabin Republicans, read here.

Photo credit: Hector Gabino, El Nuevo Herald



June 02, 2016

Florida's cost for same-sex marriage court fight: Nearly $500K

From Dara Kam at The News Service of Florida:

Florida taxpayers are on the hook for almost $500,000 in fees to lawyers who successfully challenged the state's prohibition against same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, who initially balked at paying the legal fees, has agreed to pay $280,000 to Jacksonville lawyers William Sheppard, Betsy White and Sam Jacobson, who represented two same-sex couples, according to documents filed in federal court on Wednesday.

Bondi's office last month agreed to pay $213,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which represented eight same-sex couples who were married in other states.

The settlements came after U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled in April that the lawyers in the consolidated cases were entitled to the fees, and nearly two years after Hinkle first ruled that Florida's voter-approved same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.

Hinkle put a stay on his August 2014 constitutional decision until January 2015, when same-sex marriages began in Florida.

A battle over the legal fees began last summer, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry. The Supreme Court ruling came in a case involving other states, but it cemented Hinkle's ruling that Florida's ban was unconstitutional.

Continue reading "Florida's cost for same-sex marriage court fight: Nearly $500K" »

April 01, 2016

Federal judge affirms gay marriage ban is unconstitutional after Florida officials resist compliance


Although gay marriage has been legal in Florida for more than a year and the law nationwide since last summer, a U.S. District Court judge ruled definitively this week that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Judge Robert L. Hinkle said that Gov. Rick Scott’s administration and the state Legislature need to recognize that and also start treating same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples in all aspects of law.

Hinkle wrote that he was compelled to grant summary judgment in a long-standing lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s same-sex marriage ban because state officials have shown little, if any, inclination to accept and follow last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling and the implications of it.

“After the United States Supreme Court issued [its ruling], one might have expected immediate, unequivocal acceptance,” Hinkle wrote. “Not so for the State of Florida.”

More here.

December 14, 2015

Marco Rubio's Half True claim about the states and gay marriage


Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., doesn’t like the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, but he said he won’t work to overturn it if he becomes president. Instead, Rubio told NBC’s Chuck Todd, he would appoint Supreme Court justices who "will interpret the Constitution as originally constructed."

Same-sex marriage is not a constitutionally protected right, and marriage laws have always been the responsibility of the states and not the federal government, Rubio said in an interview that aired Dec. 13 on Meet the Press.

"If you want to change the definition of marriage, then you need to go to state legislatures and get them to change it, because states have always defined marriage," he said. "And that's why some people get married in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. And in Florida, you have to wait a couple days when you get your permit. Every state has different marriage laws."

We wondered if Rubio was right that "states have always defined marriage."

See what Lauren Carroll of PolitiFact found.

October 07, 2015

Bill allowing pastors to refuse same-sex weddings clears House panel


A bill allowing religious groups to deny marriages to same-sex couples cleared its first hurdle in the Legislature on Wednesday, passing a House panel.

The Pastor Protection Act (HB 43) was written in response to increasing uncertainty in the law after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage this summer, bill supporters say. It passed the House Civil Justice Subcommittee on a 9-4 vote along party lines, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats against.

Sponsors Reps. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, and Bob Cortes, R- Altamonte Springs, said the legislation is necessary to give pastors additional protection, clarifying the religious freedoms in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"As everyone knows, there's been numerous changes in the law and the culture recently, so this law is designed to make clear in Florida statutes that no religious organization will have to perform or solemnize a marriage that violates their religious beliefs," Plakon said to the committee.

Continue reading "Bill allowing pastors to refuse same-sex weddings clears House panel" »

August 27, 2015

MSNBC: Miami gay couple featured in Jeb Bush memoir won't vote for him


In his newly-released e-book, “Reply All,” Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush shares a tense email exchange over same-sex marriage with a man described by the former Florida governor as “a gay friend.” That’s a term the now 50-year-old Xavier Cortada, the gay friend in question, can’t dispute. But it doesn’t mean Bush will be getting his vote.

“I can separate my friendship from my politics,” Cortada told msnbc during a phone interview Wednesday. “Which is why I’m not voting for my friend, Jeb Bush.”

A longtime supporter of so-called “traditional” marriage, Bush has said repeatedly that he disagrees with the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex nuptials across the nation. But the new memoir of his governorship, as told through dozens of email exchanges like the one with Cortada, offers a little more insight into his enduring opposition to same-sex marriage.

Eleven years ago, on March 3, 2004, Cortada reached out to then-Gov. Bush about his support for a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to unions between one man and one woman. The effort failed at the federal level, but ballot initiatives to ban same-sex marriage in nearly a dozen stateshelped energize social conservatives and, ultimately, reelect Bush’s brother, President George W. Bush.

More here.

August 13, 2015

Married same-sex couple sues Florida to list 2 moms on babies' birth certificates


via @SteveRothaus

The first same-sex couple to legally marry in Florida went back to court Thursday, one week after they had twins and the state refused to list the non-birth mother on the babies’ birth certificates.

Catherina Pareto and Karla P. Arguello of Coconut Grove, along with two other same-sex married couples who recently had children, sued Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong and state health department registrar Kenneth Jones in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee.

“Here we go again. It’s ridiculous,” said Pareto, who with Arguello, five other same-sex couples and Equality Florida Institute, successfully sued in 2014 in for the right to marry in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

“Our twins were born last Thursday at Baptist Hospital,” Pareto said. “When it came time for Vital Records to prepare the birth certificates, when Karla requested that I be added as the second parent, I was denied.”

So far, the Florida Health Department has not publicly responded to the lawsuit. Whitney Ray, a spokesman for Pam Bondi, said the attorney general’s office “is not a party to this lawsuit” and has not discussed it with the health department.

More here.

Photo credit: Walter Michot, Miami Herald staff

July 08, 2015

Florida drops appeal of Miami-Dade, Keys same-sex marriage cases

via @SteveRothaus

Eleven days after the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex couples have the right to marry everywhere in America, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday officially dropped her appeal of the state’s first two gay marriage victories, in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

One year after Bondi became a national symbol in the conservative fight against gay marriage, she submitted one sentence just before 5 p.m. to Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal: “Pursuant to Rule 9.350(b) of the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, Appellant State of Florida hereby voluntarily dismisses these appeals.”

Said Miami Beach attorney Elizabeth Schwartz, who helped represented six same-sex couples in the Miami-Dade case: “We are grateful that this misguided attempt at defending an indefensibly bigoted law has at long-last been abandoned.”

More here.

June 30, 2015

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler explains why he signed same-sex marriage proclamation

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, who voted against a same-sex resolution last year, signed a proclamation Friday celebrating the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Seiler has tried to stay on the sidelines of the same-sex marriage debate.

A married Catholic who has four children, Seiler told the Miami Herald in 2013 that he had no position on the issue of same-sex marriage but supported civil unions and domestic partner benefits for city employees. In June 2014, Seiler voted against a city resolution in support of same sex marriage. The former state representative and Wilton Manors mayor has been mentioned as a potential future statewide candidate but his position on same-sex marriage could put him at odds with other Democrats.

The proclamation, which says it's in recognition of the "Marriage Equality Landmark Decision," was read in part at a rally Friday at the Fort Lauderdale federal courthouse by City Commissioner Dean Trantalis, the city’s first openly gay commissioner. The proclamation states that Fort Lauderdale has the highest concentration of same-sex households in the nation, according to the 2012 Census.

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