Sen. Marco Rubio speaks at anti-gay Florida Family Policy Council fund-raiser

This past weekend, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave the keynote speech at the anti-gay group Florida Family Policy Council’s annual awards dinner.

From the AP report:

“The moral well-being of our nation is our business. It’s everybody’s business,” Rubio said to applause at the Florida Family Policy Council fundraising dinner. “The debate we should be having isn’t whether or not we have a right to talk about values and morals in the public square, the debate we should be having instead is which values and morals our nation should focus on.”

[snip]

The dinner was raising money for the group that led the petition drive to put a gay marriage ban on the state ballot. The constitutional amendment was approved by voters in 2008. Videos shown before and after Rubio spoke showed its president, John Stemberger, speaking against gay marriage, gay scout masters and allowing people who have had sex changes to teach in schools.

Rubio recently voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would outlaw workplace discrimination against those in the LGBT community.

(via Towleroad)

Florida: Kaitlyn Hunt accepts plea deal

Kaitlyn Hunt, pictured with her father, has accepted a plea deal regarding felony child abuse charges

Kaitlyn Hunt, an 18-year-old former high school cheerleader who has been in jail since August charged with felony child abuse for a consensual sexual relationship with her then-14-year-old girlfriend, today accepted a plea deal in Vero Beach, Fla., reports WPTV:

The deal accepted this morning by Indian River County Circuit Judge Robert Pegg was agreed to by Hunt’s attorney and assistant state attorney Brian Workman, resulting in a “no contest” plea to five counts in total: two counts of battery, two counts of interference with child custody, and one count of contributing to the dependency of a child, according to a WPTV report. Hunt will be released from jail on December 20.

The victim’s family claims that the charges were brought out of concern for their younger daughter’s safety and what they felt was an inappropriate sexual activity with an older woman. They have stated the same-sex nature of the relationship was note the issue, and that they are not homophobic.

(via Advocate)

Former Miami Heat player Tim Hardaway 1st to sign Florida marriage equality petition

During a 2007 radio interview former Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway said, “I hate gay people. So I let it be known. I don’t like gay people. I don’t like to be around gay people. I’m homophobic.”

Times have changed. And since the infamous interview, Hardaway has tried to make amends by volunteering at various LGBT youth organizations.

And now, with Florida ramping up to try and repeal the state’s marriage equality ban, Hardaway was the first person who signed a petition to place an equal marriage constitutional amendment on the ballot in Florida, reports NBC Miami.

“If you’re married you’re married – you should see your significant other in the hospital, make choices for your significant other if you need to make those choices,” Hardaway said on July 3 at an event supporting a ballot measure which would amend Florida’s state constitution to define marriage in the state as a “union between two persons.”

(source)

Florida: Hillsborough County Commission repeals 8 year ban on Pride recognition

Openly gay Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner

Florida’s Hillsborough County Commission voted unanimously (7-0) to repeal an 8 year ban on recognizing gay pride or supporting related events last night.

Before Wednesday’s vote, no other group of residents had its activities similarly deemed unrecognizable by county government.

A supermajority of at least five of the seven commissioners was needed to undo the ban.
Prior to the decision, Commissioner Les Miller called on his colleagues to end the ban.

“It’s is time to repeal this ugly ordinance that hangs over the head of this county,” he said.

I think it shows the distinct change in how the LGBT community is regarded today by the fact that 8 years ago this “ban” passed, and today it’s repealed unanimously.

Before the vote, Terry Kemple, of the Hillsborough-based Community Issues Council, spoke out against the repeal saying it was a “crusade to push for county government recognition of homosexual behavior.”

Watch Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith “thank” the anti-gay forces whose bigotry actually makes the case for repealing the law for the good guys.

(via JMG)

Florida: Sen. Bill Nelson supports marriage equality

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), in a statement today to the Tampa Bay Times announced his support for marriage equality.

“It is generally accepted in American law and U.S. society today ‘that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ I believe that.

The civil rights and responsibilities for one must pertain to all. Thus, to discriminate against one class and not another is wrong for me. If we are endowed by our Creator with rights, then why shouldn’t those be attainable by Gays and Lesbians?

Simply put, if The Lord made homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, why should I discriminate against their civil marriage? I shouldn’t, and I won’t.

So I will add my name to the petition of senators asking the Supreme Court to declare the law that prohibits gay marriage unconstitutional.”

Sen. Nelson makes it 51 members of the Senate that have endorsed marriage.

Florida: Gov. Rick Scott announces expansion in Medicaid

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has outraged Tea Party members after announcing his new – completely different – position on Obamacare:

Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday he supports expanding Medicaid and funneling billions of federal dollars to Florida, a significant policy reversal that could bring health care coverage to 1 million additional Floridians. “While the federal government is committed to pay 100 percent of the cost, I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians the needed access to health care,” Scott said at a hastily called news conference at the Governor’s Mansion.

Scott, a former hospital executive, spoke with unusual directness about helping the “poorest and weakest” Floridians — a stunning about-face for a small-government Republican who was one of the loudest voices in an aggressive, and ultimately unsuccessful, legal strategy to kill a law he derided as “Obamacare.”