Florida's First Openly Gay Judge Calls on State Not to Appeal Latest Federal Ruling

Categories: The Gays

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On Thursday, in a 33-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Florida's Northern District in Tallahassee became the fifth judge in the state to rule against the same-sex marriage ban. Like the previous rulings, however, Hinkle immediately stayed his ruling, meaning that gay and lesbian couples still can't get marriage licenses.

Following Hinkle's ruling, Rand Hoch, Florida's first openly gay judge, called on the state -- particularly Rick Scott -- to refrain from appealing Hinkle's federal court decision.

"Without an appeal, the matter of marriage equality will finally become settled uniformly throughout the state," Hoch said in a statement via the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council. "Gay and lesbian Floridians will then be able to have their relationships -- and their marriages -- formally recognized."

See also: Gay-Rights Group Demands Pam Bondi Get Out of the Way

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Broward Commissioners Support Same-Sex Marriage With Resolution

Categories: The Gays

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In the midst of four judges ruling that the ban on same-sex in Florida is unconstitutional and Attorney General Pam Bondi's blowback of those rulings, Broward County Commissioners have stepped up to show their support for same-sex marriage by passing a resolution on Tuesday.

Along with the resolution, which was passed unanimously, commissioners requested that the county attorney investigate ways to withhold county tax dollars that would be used in litigation to fight gay marriage.

The resolution and request send a clear signal that Broward County's leadership is in disagreement with Bondi's filing a motion to freeze the rulings and saying that the issue should be handled by the U.S. Supreme Court rather than judges in Florida.

See also: Broward County Judge Rules for Same Sex Marriage in Florida

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Gay-Rights Group Demands Pam Bondi Get Out of the Way

Categories: The Gays

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Even with four Florida judges ruling in the past three weeks that the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, State Attorney General Pam Bondi has stepped in to appeal and keep same-sex marriage illegal in Florida.

On Friday, Bondi filed two motions in a state appeals court requesting a freeze on appeals by same-sex couples who are challenging Florida's gay marriage ban. With the motions, Bondi wants the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether states have the right to ban gay marriage. Her contention is that it would be a burden on the state's taxpayers to keep bringing these issues to court.

But the same group that sent Bondi 7,000 signed petitions asking her to "stop wasting taxpayer resources defending the state's discriminatory exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage" are calling her out.

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West Palm Beach Approves Equal Benefits Ordinance

Categories: The Gays

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photo: Monica McGivern
An ordinance that would require West Palm Beach contractors to offer equal family benefits to all of their employees was given an initial approval Monday night, with two commissioners voting against it.

Should the ordinance become law, city contractors would be able to offer the same health insurance and benefits to their employees who are in same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships that they offer to their married employees.

The final vote was 3-2, Rand Hoch, president and founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, tells New Times.

The two nay voters, Commissioners Kimberly Mitchell and Shanon Materio, have asked for additional information from staff before the final vote.

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Broward County Judge Rules for Same Sex Marriage in Florida

Categories: The Gays
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Broward County Circuit Court Judge Dale Cohen just became the third Florida judge in thee weeks to rule that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Cohen had been presiding over a same-sex couple's divorce. The couple were not married in Florida, but the court needed to recognize the relationship as an out-of-state civil union in order to grant a divorce. This meant Cohen had to weigh in on Florida's same-sex marriage ban.


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West Palm Beach to Vote on Domestic Partnership Benefits Ordinance

Categories: News, The Gays

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Photo: George Martinez
"It is all about equal pay for equal work," says Rand Hoch, President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council with the news that the City of West Palm Beach could become the first public employer in the county to enact an equal benefits ordinance.

The ordinance would require contractors to offer equal family benefits to all of their employees.

"The first reading is on Monday," Hoch, who is also Florida's first openly- gay judge, tells New Times.

Should the ordinance pass, city contractors would be able to offer the same health insurance and benefits to their employees who are in same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships that they offer to their other married employees.

See also: Boynton Beach May Add Domestic Partnership Benefits

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Boynton Beach May Add Domestic Partnership Benefits

Categories: The Gays

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via Facebook
Rand Hoch, President & Founder of Palm Beach County Human Rights Council
Boynton Beach is getting set to join other Palm Beach cities in offering domestic partner benefits for its gay employees. The City Commission is expected to address offering employees with domestic partners or same-sex spouses the same benefits that those whose marriages are recognized by the state.

Mayor Jerry Taylor and city commissioners were sent a report on workplace equality from the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council in an effort to get the ball rolling on the city adopting policies that would give the city's domestic partner employees medical, dental, and life insurance, as well as giving them family sick leave, bereavement leave, and family-medical leave.

See also: Florida Same-Sex Marriage Ban Is Unconstitutional, Judge Rules

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Florida Same-Sex Marriage Ban Is Unconstitutional, Judge Rules

Categories: The Gays

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Photo by Benson Kua via Wikimedia Commons
Judge Sarah Zabel of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court has ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage in Florida is unconstitutional.

Back in May, six same-sex couples filed a motion asserting that Florida's marriage ban cannot stand in light of last year's U.S. Supreme Court of Miami-Dade ruling that the federal "Defense of Marriage Act" violates the federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. Florida's ban on same-sex marriage was added to the state constitution in 2008.

Every court in the U.S. that has looked into these constitutional claims has ruled in favor of same-sex couples' right to marry.

On Friday, Judge Zabel ruled in concert with those other courts,while staying the order pending appeal.

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Same-Sex Couples Deliver Petitions to Pam Bondi's Office

Categories: Activism, The Gays

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Courtesy of Equality Florida
When Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia overturned Florida's 2008 constitutional gay-marriage ban and ordered that couples wishing to be married in Key West should be allowed to do so as early as this week, Attorney General Pam Bondi worked quickly to stamp out the ruling.

Bondi's office issued a statement this week saying that the issue needs to be tackled by the U.S. Supreme Court and appealed Garcia's ruling to the Third District Court of Appeal.

On Thursday, same-sex couples walked into Bondi's Tallahassee office and delivered 7,000 petitions signed by Floridians asking her to "stop wasting taxpayer resources defending the state's discriminatory exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage."

See also: Gay Florida Couples Suing the State Will Be Heard in Court Today

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John Paul Alvarez Wants to Be Broward's First Gay State Rep

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Via Facebook
John Paul Alvarez lives for the look in a student's eye that shows he or she gets it. At Stirling Elementary School in Hollywood, the baby-faced teacher is known for working well with troubled third-graders.

Perhaps it's because he recognizes himself in them. Alvarez grew up in Miami, just south of the airport, as the son of two Cuban immigrants who made their way over to Florida in the '60s. Although his parents opened a sandwich shop downtown, it floundered after a few years, leaving them to work a series of what Alvarez remembers as "the bad jobs, the hard jobs."

But now Alvarez, a Democrat, is asking for South Floridians' permission to take on a hard job his parents could have never dreamed of. He wants to serve as District 100's state rep and prioritize women's rights, LGBT rights, and education. If granted his wish, he'll also be making history as Broward County's first openly gay state rep. The district stretches south to Hollywood, Hallandale, Sunny Isles, Aventura and North Miami Beach.


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