More than 80 LGBT leaders from across the state met July 25 for a conference organized by Organizations United Together (OUT), a federation of local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied organizations dedicated to achieving equality and justice for LGBT Floridians. The conference, held at the offices of Gray Robinson, PA in Downtown Orlando, brought together representatives from 75 member organizations from across the state to participate in an all day event designed to foster information sharing, brainstorming and planning.
Local groups like the Orlando Gay Chorus, SAVE Dade, various PFLAG chapters, Sarasota Equality Project, Palm Beach County Human Rights Council and the Orlando Youth Alliance were just some of the many groups from Florida that were represented at the conference. Statewide and national groups in attendance included Human Rights Campaign, Equality Florida, the American Civil liberties Union, Florida Safe Schools Alliance, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Equality March.
“We are very excited about the conference,” said Georg Ketelhohn, the Chair of the Federation’s Board of Directors. “We are thrilled by the continued strong participation by local leaders from across the state, which has more than quadrupled OUT’s membership in the last six months.”
The first part of the conference focused on updating members on the progress OUT has made since forming at the beginning of the year. OUT leaders also heard feedback regarding the resources members would like to have available via the Federation’s Web site, OutFl.org.
During the lunch break, attendees received an impromptu introduction to two candidates vying for LGBT votes in upcoming elections. Sen. Dan Gelber (D) Miami is running for State Attorney General and former Mayor of North Miami Kevin Burns is campaigning to fill the seat that will soon be vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez (R).
One of the most anticipated parts of the conference was the breakout sessions held in the afternoon, where representatives from various groups gathered with leaders from similar organizations in nine areas of interest including local community initiatives, candidate endorsements and state and federal issues. Each of the breakout groups came up with recommendations for action that will help reach the goals developed at the conference.
The OUT Federation’s announced it is searching for an executive director to lead the organization. According to Gettelhohn, the search for the right person to fill the position has been expanded to the national level in order to ensure that the Federation will have the largest pool of candidates to choose from.