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President Obama Endorses Orlando as 'Gay Games' Host

Gaygames_obama

The City of Orlando got a boost from the White House in its bid to host the 2018 Gay Games, the Washington Blade reports:

“I am pleased to voice my support for the City of Orlando’s bid to host the Gay Games 2018,” the president said in a letter to Orlando 2018, the organization working on the bid.

“As President of the United States, I am committed to advancing equality for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, both in America and around the world,” he said.

Mikael Audebert, project director for Orlando 2018, said Obama’s endorsement letter is believed to mark the first time a U.S. president has expressed support for the Gay Games or any LGBT event of that size.

Watch Orlando's bid video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "President Obama Endorses Orlando as 'Gay Games' Host" »


Gay Days Makes A Mint; Visitors Bureau Takes Note

ImagesToday's the second-to-last day of Gay Days in Orlando, and despite the best efforts of the Florida Family Association, people seem to be enjoying themselves.

That includes Orlandian business people, who will make a mind-numbing amount of money off Gay Days' red-shirted revelers this year.

From Orlando's CFNews13:

A sea of red shirts took over Walt Disney World's Main Street to celebrate Gay Days.

Travel groups say the more red you see, the more green the city makes.

People keep coming back year after year. Drew Ladochi and his friends travelled from Chicago and a few years ago he decided he loved Orlando so much he bought a time share here.

"We've been partying all weekend and now it's Magic Kingdom today and Epcot tomorrow," Ladochi said.

The "Gay Days" events are not put on by the theme parks but the people are welcomed along with anyone else who wants to visit. Orlando Gay Travel.com estimates the theme parks make more than $13 million this weekend alone.

The estimate could be conservative. According to CFNews, Gay Days' organizers guess their celebration brings up to 150,000 people to town, who spend the great bulk of their money at the local theme parks.

Orlando's tourism bureau, Visit Orlando, this year began promoting Gay Days for the first time after ignoring the event for two decades. The years-long snubbing is understandable, Central Florida being historically gay-unfriendly, and might have continued indefinitely if the gays didn't bring so much money to town. The Orlando Sentinel has published a story on the bureau's evolution, which now seeks to target LGBT visitors year-round:

For the first time in its history, the publicly subsidized convention-and-visitors bureau has a page on its website targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender visitors. It is working with a gay-oriented marketing agency to attract more German tourists, and it recently spent $3,500 on a national print advertisement aimed at the LGBT market, in cooperation with other tourism-promotion groups.

"We have continued to grow our presence in that market," said Danielle Courtenay, Visit Orlando's chief marketing officer. "It is certainly a market out there that Orlando can continue to benefit from."

... Visit Orlando, which gets the majority of its funds from Orange County government, has kept the gay market at arm's length even though Orlando hosts one of gay travel's biggest and most successful events: Gay Days. The weeklong festival, founded in Orlando two decades ago, has done more than perhaps anything else to put the nation's theme-park capital on the gay-travel map.

... Former Orange County Commissioner Linda Stewart said she agrees ... [that the] visitor's bureau has not done enough to go after the LGBT market. But Stewart said she senses change is coming.

"They are starting to see the dollar signs and the need to be more involved, both internationally and nationally," she said. "This should have been done long ago."

The arc of history is long, but it bends towards ... profit?


Orlando Opens Central Florida's First Domestic Partner Registry: VIDEO

Orlando

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was on hand today as the city opened its domestic partner registry, the first for same-sex couples in Central Florida.

KWCH reports:

The registry doesn't carry the legal weight of a marriage, which isn't an option for same-sex couples in Florida. But for some, it felt that way, at least a bit.

"I think it gives us a bond between us, emotionally," said Bob Brings, who with his partner Bill Stevens was one of the first to sign the registry. "It feels good. It might be a piece of paper today, but it symbolizes to me that we are bonded, and we will take care of each other and we will be there till the end."

In all, 25 couples were expected to register on the first day and 93 over the first few days. At 10 a.m., surrounded by a phalanx of news cameras, three couples walked up to the counter in the City Clerk's Office to sign the necessary paperwork...

...Registered couples — gay or straight — are entitled to a handful of rights in certain situations. For a $30 fee, they receive a certificate and two laminated cards, and their names are entered into a government database. Registration allows them to visit one another in the hospital or jail, make health-care decisions for an incapacitated partner and plan a partner's funeral, among other things.

Watch the first gay couples file in, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Orlando City Council Enacts Domestic Partner Registry in Unanimous Vote; is First City in Central Florida to Do So

Orlando's City Council today voted to enact Central Florida's first domestic partner registry, the Sentinel reports:

Orlando"This is an historic event for Orlando, and it is a monumentally important event for our community. It will be the first time in our lives that our families are recognized by our government," said attorney Mary Meeks, who helped push for the registry. "At least here in Orlando, our relationships are recognized as real, and they are valued and they are accepted."

Once the registry opens on Jan. 12, unmarried couples — whether gay or straight — will be able to record their relationship in a government database for a $30 fee.

Registered couples then would have a few of the same rights that married people take for granted: the ability to visit one another in the hospital or jail, to make health care decisions for an incapacitated partner and to make funeral plans.

The registry would apply only to hospitals, funeral homes and other institutions located within the city limits, but couples who live outside the city are free to sign it. Orange County is considering bringing forward similar legislation that would apply countywide.

The registry begins in 30 days.

Filmmaker Vicki Nantz celebrates the vote:


Florida's Orange County Approves LGBT Anti-Discrimination Law

Orange County City Council voted 6-1 to approve an anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation on Tuesday:

Orange "The vote was notable for its lack of opposition. No residents spoke against it, in stark contrast to the city of Orlando's passage of similar protections in 2002, which attracted fierce debate, religious group antagonism and a close vote. 'It's a completely different world than it was 10 years ago,' said Patrick Howell, a lawyer and activist who lobbied for the new protections in both Orlando and the county. Commissioner Fred Brummer was the only 'no' vote. He said his objections centered on federal housing rules included in the ordinance, which he said could expose property owners to frivolous lawsuits.But Howell and others predicted the ordinance would not unleash a flood of courtroom discrimination claims, and much of its impact would be symbolic. 'A lot of this is about sending the message that Orange County is an inclusive community,' Howell said. 'Everyone's welcome.' The ordinance expands existing bias-protected classes already found in state and federal law, such as religion, race, disability and gender, to include sexual orientation."


Man Attacked By Teen Gang in Orlando Anti-Gay Hate Crime

Orlando

An Orlando man says he feared for his life after he was attacked by a gang of nine teens in Orlando:

"A-20-year-old man told deputies he was walking in the area of Long and Barbara roads when he was approached by the group. The victim told investigators he was asked whether he was gay before the attack. 'One asked if I was gay, and I said, 'What if I am?'' the unidentified victim said. The victim, who said he is bisexual, didn't want to use his name because he is scared of the people who attacked him. 'The next thing I know, I felt somebody hit me from behind, and then they punched me,' the victim said. The victim said the attackers first asked to use his cell phone and then chased him across a field off Clarcona-Ocoee Road. He said he felt a hand grab his neck. 'I have a busted lip on the inside,' the victim said. Investigators with the Orange County Sheriff's Office said because he was targeted because of his sexual orientation, the case will be investigated as a hate crime."

Watch an interview with the victim here.


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