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Could Trans Protections In Miami-Dade County Be A Death Knell For The Right-Wing Bathroom Myth?


Sixteen years — almost to the day — after the Miami-Dade County Commission banned anti-gay discrimination, its members voted Tuesday to extend those protections to transgender people. 

After several hours of testimony from speakers on both sides, the commission voted 8-3 to add gender identity to county laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. More than 170 people signed up to speak, many of them mobilized by the fear-mongering mailer above, according to WPLG-TV

Bryant.AnitaThe addition of sexual orientation to the laws in 1998 reversed the outcome of an infamous 1977 ballot measure championed by beauty queen Anita Bryant (right) — which overturned the commission's initial decision to ban anti-gay discrimination.  

From The Miami Herald

During Tuesday’s debate, there were repeated echoes of Dec. 1, 1998, when commissioners — by a single vote — banned discrimination against gay men and lesbians. ... The man who was the swing vote back then, Commissioner Dennis Moss, was absent this time around, though he co-sponsored the legislation.

“It’s interesting to note that in the 16 years that have transpired since we passed the ordinance, while much catastrophe was predicted by the opposition, the world has not come to an end,” said Katy Sorenson, the former commissioner who sponsored the 1998 legislation.
Not unlike the battle over gay rights in Miami-Dade, the battle over transgender protections there could ultimately take on broader significance. It's been nasty at times — one Cuban-American commissioner who backed the amendment was accused of being a Communist — and supporters expect a ballot measure aimed at overturning it. 
Miami-Dade joins 27 other Florida cities and counties with similar laws, and BuzzFeed reports that Tuesday's vote could be a tipping point for statewide LGBT protections. Meanwhile, other major cities across the US, from Cleveland to Houston, are grappling with similar laws. 
In those cities, like in Miami-Dade, opponents have relied heavily on the baseless right-wing myth that sexual predators will use the laws to sneak into women's restrooms. From Buzzfeed

“There are cases of the deviants who will take advantage of this,” said Commissioner Esteban Bovo, who represents suburban Miami. He would only support the ordinance if it carved out an exception so it did not apply to transgender people using public bathrooms. “We have to be mindful of a segment of the population, who is probably a majority, who is very concerned with this issue,” he said. “It is a concern for the safety of their family.”

But in the end, a majority of the commission rejected a bathroom amendment and sided with supporters of the ordinance, who characterized the measure as a basic civil right.

“It’s a scare tactic when we come down to the bathrooms and locker rooms,” said Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, one of the ordinance’s primary co-sponsors. “These are scare tactics.” ... 

Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez plans to sign the measure. 

Watch the report from WPLG-TV, as well as clips of testimony from supporters of transgender protections, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Could Trans Protections In Miami-Dade County Be A Death Knell For The Right-Wing Bathroom Myth?" »

Florida Couple Sues DMV, State Officials Over 'Driving While Gay-Married' Policy


Given a choice between losing his driver's license and complying with the letter of Florida's same-sex marriage ban, Daniel Wall-DeSousa decided he'd walk to work or ride the bus. 

Wall-DeSousa cut his license in half, as instructed by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, and mailed it back to the agency's Tallahassee headquarters.  

"My driving privileges have been canceled indefinitely," Wall-DeSousa told The Orlando Sentinel. "I made a decision I would rather give up my driving privileges than my identity."

Now, Wall-DeSousa and his husband, Scott Wall-DeSousa, have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to force the DMV and state officials to recognize their marriage. 

Earlier this year, both Daniel and Scott Wall-DeSousa used their Social Security cards and New York marriage certificate to obtain driver's licenses listing their hyphenated, married names. 

However, after the Wall-DeSousas went on TV news to inform other same-sex couples they could do the same, the DMV sent a letter threatening to revoke their licenses if they didn't reapply in their former names. Florida law prohibits recognition of same-sex marriages from any jurisdiction and for any purpose. 

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb07ac01d5970d-500wiScott Wall-Desousa, a real-estate agent, reapplied and obtained a license in his former name, but Daniel Wall-DeSousa, a schoolteacher, refused. 

The Wall-DeSousas' lawsuit filed last week alleges that the policy violates their rights to due process, equal protection and free speech, the Associated Press reports. 

Several state and federal judges in Florida have struck down the state's marriage ban as unconsitutinal, but those decisions have been stayed pending appeals by Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi.  

The Wall-DeSousas' lawsuit states that when Scott Wall-DeSousa initially tried to obtain a driver's license in his married name, a DMV employee in Brevard County "tossed" his marriage certificate back at him and indicated it wasn't a legal document. The employee also threatened to call another DMV office, where Daniel Wall-DeSousa had already obtained a license in his married name, and have them cancel it.

A Brevard County official later instructed Scott Wall-DeSousa to go to another county to obtain his license, since employees there wouldn't be aware it was a same-sex marriage. When Scott Wall-DeSousa applied for a license in his married name in Orange County, a DMV employee told him she was authorized to issue it because the marriage license said only "spouse" and not "same-sex" — suggesting the equivalent of a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. 

After receiving the letter threatening to revoke their licenses, Scott Wall-DeSousa called the DMV's headquarters, where an official told him the department was "following the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law," according to the lawsuit. 

Read the couple's full complaint, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Florida Couple Sues DMV, State Officials Over 'Driving While Gay-Married' Policy" »

Bipartisan Bill Prohibiting LGBT Discrimination Introduced In Florida Legislature


In a rare display of bipartisanship, a Florida Democrat and Republican jointly introduced legislation aimed at prohibiting discrimination against LGBT Floridians in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations reports LGBTQ NationRep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo, Fla.) and Democratic Whip Sen. Joseph Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach) filed the legislation in the Florida House and Senate on Monday. 

The legislation, known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA), would amend Chapter 760 of the Florida State Statutes that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status to also include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, commented on the introduction of the new legislation.

Said Smith:

"Despite overwhelming public support and the passage of local equal rights ordinances throughout the state, there is no statewide law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida.

"Most people are actually surprised to discover these protections don’t already exist because it seems such common sense. Updating the law will help ensure that all people in our state have the opportunity to be judged on their job performance and qualifications, nothing more, nothing less."

Smith hopes that support from lawmakers, businesses and the public at large will make Florida a more attractive state to work and live in. Last year, Rep. Raschein was the prime co-sponsor of the bill, and secured more than 10 GOP co-sponsors for the bill. Rep. Raschein and Sen. Abruzzo are hopeful about the opportunities the bill presents for Florida residents and the state's economy.

Said Raschein: 

Raschein_abruzzo"Passing the Competitive Workforce Act makes good sense economically and benefits employers and employees by offering a law that is consistent across the state."

Abruzzo added:

"Recruiting and retaining talent regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity will only serve to enhance our reputation and augment our economic viability."

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen and Transgender Son Speak Out in CBS Miami Interview: VIDEO

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL.) disclosed in an interview with CBS Miami last night that her views have changed on LGBT people after coming to terms with her transgender son's transition Mediaite reports.

Watch Ros-Lehtinen and her son's interview with CBS Miami, AFTER THE JUMP...

RoslehtinenHer son Rodrigo, born Amanda, started the transition process in 2007, and he officially went public with his identity in the interview that aired last night. Ros-Lehtinen is 100 percent supportive of her son's decision.

Said Ros-Lehtinen:

“As parents we wanted to make sure Rigo understood we were totally fine with it. We wanted to make sure he was safe. Our society is sometimes not inviting and not caring enough and there is no mystery that LGBT kids when they are younger are bullied."

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen originally voted for the Defense of Marriage Act back in 1996, but she is the only Republican to vote for its repeal. Although Rodrigo's mother is a part of a political party that aims to derail LGBT rights, Lehtinen's son loves her dearly.


Said Rodrigo:

“I think she’s genuinely a good person, she may be Republican and I may not be, but she cares about people enough and the tide of history is going so much in that direction.”

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen also gave advice on how parents should react to their children coming out to them. Fortunately, none of her suggestions included conversion therapy as a solution, which some members of her party support.

Said Ros-Lehtinen:

“Don’t freak out, stay calm and don’t be afraid. Love your child because that person is your child whether it’s the person you wanted him or her to be or not. That’s my advice to parents, never, never reject your child. That’s unconditional love no matter what.”

Watch Ros-Lehtinen and her son's interview with CBS Miami, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen and Transgender Son Speak Out in CBS Miami Interview: VIDEO" »

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi Appeals Gay Marriage Ruling to Eleventh Circuit Court

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed an appeal with the Eleventh Circuit asking the court to take up Judge Robert Hinkle's August ruling overturning the state's ban on same-sex marriage. 

BondiLast week, Hinkle announced he would not lift the stay on his ruling before it is set to expire on January 5. The Eleventh Circuit also has jurisdiction over Alabama and Georgia - neither of which have marriage equailty yet. 

Here's an excerpt from Bondi's appeal:

Because no fundamental right is at issue, and because there is no other basis fro applying heightened scrutiny, only rational basis applies. Florida's laws satisfy this deferential standard. Florida's laws therefore do not violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Nor do they violate the right to travel, the Establishment Clause, or a right to intimate association. 

Read the full appeal below via Equality Case Files

Florida DMV Threatens To Revoke Gay Couple's Driver Licenses If They Don't Change Names - VIDEO


The state of Florida is threatening to revoke a same-sex couple's driver licenses because they obtained them using an out-of-state marriage certificate.

Daniel [left] and Scott Wall-Desousa, of Palm Bay, Florida, have been together for 10 years and were married in New York City. 

Earlier this year, both men attempted to get their hyphenated, married name — which appears on their Social Security cards — on their Florida driver licenses.

Daniel Wall-Desousa had no trouble, but Scott was rejected at a different DMV office — based on Florida's constitutional amendment prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages from out of state, according to a report from WFTV Channel 9.

After an extended back-and-forth with state officials, Scott went to a different DMV office and was able to obtain a license with his married name. The couple then appeared on WFTV, which reported they were one of the first couples in Florida to change their name thorugh an out-of-state same-sex marriage.

However, state officials apparently took notice, and within days of the report airing, the Wall-Desousas received a letter saying their driver licenses will be revoked unless they obtain new ones in their previous names, WFTV reports.

"It informs me and notifies me that my driving privileges will be canceled indefinitely as of Nov. 22," Daniel Wall-Desousa said of the letter.

The couple now says they intend to file a lawsuit. Several state and federal judges in Florida have struck down the state's marriage amendment as unconsitutinal, but those decisions have been stayed pending appeals by Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi.

In Texas earlier this year, a woman was similarly denied a driver license when she tried to obtain one using an out-of-state same-sex marriage certificate. But the woman, Connie Wilson, was later able to obatin a license with her married name using a US passport. 

No word on whether Texas plans to try to revoke Wilson's license.

Watch WFTV's initial report, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Florida DMV Threatens To Revoke Gay Couple's Driver Licenses If They Don't Change Names - VIDEO " »


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