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Florida Governor Rick Scott Gives Whackadoodle Answer When Asked About Gay Marriage: VIDEO

Scott

This week Florida Circuit Judge Luis Garcia ruled the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional, opening the door for gay couples to begin marrying in the Florida Keys as early as next week.

Attorney General Pam Bondi appealed, effectively freezing Garcia's ruling.

Governor Rick Scott was asked by FOX4 News about his feelings on the ruling and same-sex marriage in the state, and nobody could figure out what he was talking about.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Cape Coral, FL Mayor is First in SW Florida to Support Marriage Equality: VIDEO

Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki

Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki is the first mayor in Southwest Florida to publicly announce her support for same-sex marriage, reports ABC-7 News.

Marni sawicki twitterSawicki has also added her name to a list of more than 500 mayors around the United States who support marriage equality.  Yesterday, we featured a video by Tallahassee Mayor John Marks in which he explains his reasons for supporting same-sex marriage.

Announcing her decision, Sawicki said she added her name to the Mayors for the Freedom To Marry campaign because “it's about human rights and freedom of choice. I believe it's the right thing to do."

However, although Sawicki has received support, some Cape Coral residents are less than happy with her decision.  One resident Dennis Adana told ABC-7 News that “as a Christian I am appalled that she would come out and publicly be okay with that.”

Watch Tallahassee Mayor John Marks explain why he supports same-sex marriage, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Tallahassee Mayor John Marks Speaks Out for Marriage Equality: VIDEO

Mayor john marks tallahassee

Mayors for the Freedom to Marry is a nonpartisan group of mayors who believe that all people should be able to share in the love and commitment of marriage.

500 mayors from more than 40 states and Washington, D.C., have so far signed the Mayors for the Freedom To Marry statement.

Founded in 2012, The six chairs of the group are Kevin Faulconer (San Diego), Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles), Michael Nutter (Philadelphia), Annise Parker (Houston), Kasim Reed (Atlanta) and Greg Stanton (Phoenix).

In a video supporting marriage equality, Tallahassee Mayor John Marks says “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."

Watch Mayor Marks explain why he supports same-sex marriage, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Key West Couple Takes Challenge to Florida's Gay Marriage Ban Before Judge Today

Huntsman

Aaron Huntsman and Lee Jones, a Key West couple of 11 years, went before a judge in Monroe County, Florida together in a case filed in April challenging the state's ban on gay marriage.

Freedom to Marry profiles the couples:

"We're just like every other couple," Aaron explained to Freedom to Marry. "We share the same banking account, we share the same values, the same bills, the same insurance. We want to have a home, have children, and build a family together. But laws in Florida tell us that we are not the same. And that's hurtful."

Beyond that, Aaron and Lee explained more about the real harms of denying the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.

"We don't have the right to make medical decisions for each other," Lee said. "If something were to happen, we wouldn't be protected. What would happen to our home? How would we be impacted by Social Security? We just want to be seen as the same as any other committed couple."

Lee and Aaron met just over 11 years ago at Pride Weekend in Key West. Aaron was the reigning Mr. Pride in Key West, and they were introduced to each other by their co-worker, Donny Burgdorfer.

Equality Florida was at the hearing and reports that there will be no immediate ruling today. Huntsman and Jones were prepared to marry instantly if the judge had ruled from the bench.


St. Petersburg, Flordia Gay Resort Sues County For Discrimination

Cabana

In an interesting legal kerfuffle, a St. Petersburg, Florida Resort has sued Pinellas County, questioning the line between niche markets and discrimination, according to The Tampa Bay Times. Representatives from the hotel in question, The Flamingo Resort (pictured), are claiming that the establishment's tax bill is too high, and that this is because they cater to a gay clientele.

Pinellas Property Appraiser Pam Dubov is familiar with a previous complaint of The Flamingo Resort's, and she doubts the validity of this new one. Said Dubov: "I categorically deny that we have any intent toward discrimination against the gay and lesbian community."

Dubov gives an example of how appraisers ballpark a property's value. For example, a restaurant that markets itself to small children might do less business, but it does not change the value of the property where the restaurant sits. In the example of The Flamingo Resort, the establishment took in $673,222 in 2012, but the property appraiser calculated a potential $1.1 million

The reasons given for this valuation were numerous. The building is old and requires considerable maintenance, there have been no renovations on the resort since construction, and the Flamingo operates under a 28 percent occupancy rate. According to the board records, the representative is specifically quoted as saying the hotel is "functionally obsolete" because of "the substandard location, and older furniture, fixtures and equipment that cannot be updated."

The board is also quoted as saying "It is difficult to determine whether or not this property could generate more net operating income if it did not appeal to a niche market."


Former GOP Florida Governor Charlie Crist Files Amicus Brief In Support Of Same-Sex Marriage

Former GOP governor of Florida and current Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist previously apologized for a blatantly anti-gay political track record. Now he has made good on part of his promise to do everything he can to help achieve equal rights for same-sex couples and the LGBTQ community. He filed an amicus brief today in support of same-sex marriage in the Pareto v. Ruvin case set for a July hearing. 

CristEquality Florida reports:

"As former Governor, and as someone who previously supported this measure, Charlie Crist's words matter a great deal,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida. “He has taken the same journey the majority of Floridians have taken in realizing that this ban serves no purpose but to disparage and discriminate against gay couples and our children."

In the brief, Crist stated that as a former Governor and Attorney General who previously supported the ban, he is in a unique position to provide the court a perspective on why it is wrong, harmful to Florida and harmful to gay couples and children who are denied the protections only marriage provides. 

In his brief, Crist references his own evolution, in conjunction with the American public's:

“Thus, with the arc of history now, in fact, bending toward justice, this issue of marriage equality will almost certainly not even be an issue for the children and grandchildren of this State. But it is still the duty of those in the present to recognize that the legitimacy of government depends upon its willingness to fairly, transparently, and equitably administer the law. That goal is frustrated by denying an entire class of citizens equality in the institution of marriage simply because of who they are and whom they love.”

Crist's brief is an exciting addition to this case, following others filed by the Orlando and Miami Beach city councils. 


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