Issue 22.23: DPR Extinction

By : Jake Stevens
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Are domestic partnerships becoming extinct? Marriage equality could signal the death of domestic partnerships and the benefits they bestow, Lewis Black’s rants are on fire, St. Pete Pride goes full exposure, Bianca Del Rio spreads the hate, local news, celebrity interviews, and much, much more!

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In 2014, Mary Meeks’ remarkable activism has directly impacted LGBT equality in Florida

By : Jamie Hyman
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Orlando – If you have exercised any of your existing rights to equality as an LGBT in Central Florida, chances are Mary Meeks had a hand in it.

Meeks, an Orlando attorney and LGBT activist, has been involved in the fight for equality since the early 2000s, when Orlando passed Chapter 57, the city’s human rights ordinance. Since then, Meeks has been a key player in the fight for an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, Orlando and Orange County’s domestic partner registries, and is a member of the legal team working to legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Florida.

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Cape Coral approves DPR, 1st city in Lee County

By : Staff Report
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Cape Coral – The City of Cape Coral is now the first city in Lee County to approve a domestic parther registry. The DPR passed with a 5-3 vote, joining Punta Gorda as one of the only cities in southwest Florida to have a domestic partner registry.

At the city commission meeting on Nov. 3, Mayor Marni Sawicki and Councilmen Richard Leon, Rick Williams, Derrick Donnell and John Carioscia voted in favor of the registry, while council members Rana Erbrick, Jim Burch and Lenny Nesta voted against the registry.

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Orange County preps for legal same-sex marriage

By : Jamie Hyman
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Orlando – The Clerk of Courts office has begun the groundwork necessary to implement legal same-sex marriage in Orange County.

Eddie Fernandez, Orange County Clerk of Courts, said their marriage forms are being “reviewed and revised” in anticipation of a victory for marriage equality advocates.

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Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ journey toward marriage equality

By : Tom Dyer
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Orlando – I spoke with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs at the Watermark offices on Thursday, Aug. 21. The headline coming out of the interview is that Jacobs announced her support for marriage equality. But she also offered unique insights into her journey on LGBT issues and her relationship with the local community.

With Florida court cases lined up like jets on a tarmac, and support for marriage equality vocalized by Orlando’s Buddy Dyer and mayors throughout the region, pressure has been mounting on Jacobs to weigh in.

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Sending a mixed signal: Statement from Orange Mayor sparks debate

By : Tom Dyer
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Orlando – In late July, same-sex marriage was advanced by two South Florida circuit courts. But the debate made an unexpected stop in Orange County Commission chambers.

Responding to queries from activists and the media, a majority of commissioners endorsed marriage equality.

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Statewide domestic partner registry filed

By : Staff Report
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Tallahassee- State Rep. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) has filed HB 439, which approved, would create a domestic partner registry for the state of Florida.

The Florida Families Act “authorizes clerk of circuit court to collect filing fee for domestic partner registrations; establishes requirements for domestic partnership; provides that act does not preempt authority of county or municipality to enact domestic partnership ordinance unless in conflict with act,” according to the text of the bill.

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Top 5 Florida news stories of 2013

By : Staff Report
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Free Kate: maybe?
It wasn’t the story with the biggest impact. It didn’t really advance or repress LGBT rights and many readers argued that it shouldn’t be new at all. But that doesn’t change the fact that Katlyn Hunt’s arrest, visits to jail and eventual plea deal captivated the nation and sparked debate about statutory law. Hunt was in trouble for having sex with a 14-year-old schoolmate when she was 18. The younger girl’s parents turned Hunt in, and Hunt’s father alleged that their motivations were anti-gay. An initial plea deal was withdrawn when it turned out Hunt and the girl continued to contact each other after Hunt’s arrest. In the end, Hunt pleaded no contest to battery, interference with child custody and contributing to the dependency of a child. Her attorney stated that Hunt’s goal is to change the law so that teens attending the same school can’t be prosecuted for having sexual relationships, regardless of sexual orientation.

Statewide domestic partner registry fails
The Family First Bill survived about five months before it died in committee. The bill was filed in January by Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood), and cleared the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs by a 5 to 4 vote on April 1.  Before it died in the Judiciary Committee in May, it survived a rewrite, a key supporting Senator unable to vote because she was taken to the hospital (she’s ok), and a long, strange speech by notorious anti-gay pundit John Stemberger, who warned the bill would set a precedent for marriage equality and claimed that marriage rates fall in areas with domestic partner registries, but was unable to summon any proof when pressed on his claim. Maybe the idea will have better luck in 2014.

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Living Loud: Resolve to fight for a statewide DPR in 2014

By : Mary Meeks
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MaryMeeksHeadshotLike Ralphie in A Christmas Story who yearned for his perfect present, I yearn for mine: equal protection under the law. The thought of it consumes me daily, just as the BB gun consumed Ralphie. And although this past year saw some exciting advances for LGBT equality across the nation, here in Florida we could only watch from the sidelines.

Sure, 16 states plus D.C. now have full marriage equality, covering approximately 37% of the U.S. population. And sure, the married same-sex couples in those states now are entitled to all of the federal rights and benefits attached to marriage, thanks to the Supreme Court striking down Section 3 of DOMA. So yes, let’s spike the eggnog and drink a toast to them, but what about Florida?

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Sarasota County moves toward domestic partner registry

By : Jamie Hyman
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After three hours of debate the morning of Oct. 9, the Sarasota County Commissioners have voted unanimously to hold two public hearings, then vote on a countywide domestic partner registry.

The next meeting is “tentatively scheduled” for Nov. 6, according to Sarasota County spokeswoman Jamie Carson.

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