Yesterday, Florida Governor Rick Scott released an extensive list of unilateral cuts made possible by his use of line-item veto power. The Governor’s cuts target millions of dollars for programs that tackle critical issues for South Florida communities.
Governor Scott’s cuts focus a particular level of animus on some of the most vulnerable Floridians -- our state’s homeless population. It's clear that more resources than ever are needed to deal with the issue of homelessness, but I'm sad to report that Scott’s cuts eliminate hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for homelessness programs in Miami-Dade County alone.
Yesterday, with a stroke of his veto pen, Governor Scott eliminated $100,000 in funding for the critical LGBTQ youth homelessness program administered in South Florida by Citrus Health.
Scott’s withdrawal of the funding, which was first added to the state budget in 2013 after the efforts of State Representative and SAVE ally David Richardson, will devastate South Florida’s capacity to provide desperately needed help to its homeless youth population, of which as much as 40% or more is believed to identify as LGBTQ.
Experience tells us -- and the statistics show -- that among homeless kids, so many don’t have a home because they’ve been kicked out for being LGBTQ. The same statistics also show that once these kids don’t have a roof over their heads, their risk of mental health problems, sexual violence, drug abuse, unsafe sexual behavior and suicide is many times higher than their non-LGBTQ peers.
I can only shake my head at the Governor’s unilateral decision to withdraw funding for such a vulnerable group of Floridians like homeless LGBTQ youth.
For his part, State Representative Richardson is disappointed in the Governor’s action. He rightly points out that the cut's damage is magnified not only by the fact that the program has come to be relied on by homeless LGBTQ youth over the past two years, but also by the fact that the program’s funding commitment from the state helped unlock matching funds offered by local entities.
“This was a great project because it multiplied its own impact by matching the state funding I helped to secure with available funding from local sources," Richardson told SAVE, in response to the news of the cut.
“With SAVE’s help, I was able to review bids from three different organizations to take on the task of managing the housing portion of the initiative," said Richardson, "and we were proud to select Citrus Health to support this project. It was the type of accountable, efficient, results-based program that we should be funding more of at all levels of government, and I promise to fight during the upcoming legislative session to restore funding for this critical service."
We've got Rep. Richardson's back! Do you? Help us continue to support him as he works to restore funding for homeless LGBTQ youth by making a donation here. >>
Only with help from supporters like you can we protect critical programs like this one that help protect some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Thank you for your support.
Aurelio Hurtado de Mendoza
Deputy Director, SAVE
We're so happy to report that Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed the bill that includes a provision spearheaded by State Representative and SAVE ally David Richardson to strike discriminatory gay and lesbian adoption language from Florida's laws.
From a press release from the Representative's office:
REPRESENTATIVE DAVID RICHARDSON APPLAUDS FINAL END OF FLORIDA’s GAY-ADOPTION BAN
Representative David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, celebrates the full and final end of Florida’s ban on gay adoptions and commends Gov. Rick Scott for signing the House’s adoption legislation into law.
In April, Richardson filed an amendment to HB 7013, a bill to encourage adoption, that ultimately struck language from Florida law that prohibited gay Floridians from adopting children. The change to statute affirms an earlier court ruling and assures the policy will be followed statewide.
“This is a momentous day and an important advance for civil rights. It’s also great news for children who will be adopted into loving homes,” Richardson said. “I’m glad the governor did the right thing. An important part of this progress for social justice goes beyond the benefits to children. The largest, most successful and forward-thinking businesses in the nation want to recruit the best employees from the broadest population. They hesitate to locate in a state that discriminates against potential employees and makes them unwelcome. This is a big deal and a great day for Florida."
The legislation aims to increase adoption in the state, including incentive payments to adoption agencies and subsidies to state employees who adopt. Representative Richardson’s amendment sought to make sure the legislation is as effective as it can be.
Gov. Scott noted in a transmittal letter that the stricken language and the court’s earlier ruling mean state officials must assess potential adoptive parents according to the best interests of the child without regard to the sexual orientation of the parents.
“The best interest of children should always be foremost. It’s certainly in the best interest of the state to end discrimination and make sure the best adoptive parents are candidates,” Richardson said. “I am so proud of the work all of us in the Legislature were able to achieve together.”
Richardson was the first-elected openly gay member of the Florida Legislature when he was elected in August 2012.
“This is very personal for me. I recall the anti-gay campaigns of Anita Bryant that led to this discriminatory law. It’s a victory to be involved in repealing a law that caused so much heartache to me and so many others,” Richardson said.
SAVE congratulates the bipartisan coalition in the Florida House and Senate that worked so hard to pass this important legislation. We also commend Governor Scott for doing the right thing by signing this bill.
13 = the number of U.S. states where you still can't marry the person you love.
When we began the journey to freedom back in March of last year by filing suit against the State of Florida, we never believed we could achieve what we did in just ten short months.
But it happened: together with eight couples, one widow, the ACLU of Florida, and supporters like you, we brought the freedom to marry to Florida this January.
Gays and lesbians have had the freedom to marry for only a few short months here in Florida, but it feels like our court victory was ages ago. Yet sadly, a lack of freedom is the reality for millions of Americans living in the 13 states that still won't allow them the freedom to marry the person they love.
Marriage is a right. The Constitution guarantees us as Americans the right to marry who we love, regardless of who we love -- and we should all have the opportunity to do so, no matter who we are.
Today, our allies will argue before the U.S. Supreme Court that every American deserves the freedom to marry.
SAVE is honored to have been invited by Freedom to Marry to join fellow marriage plaintiffs from Florida and across the country this week in Washington, DC. We were proud to raise our hands at the Ready for Marriage reception last night when Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson asked for plaintiffs to stand up:
It's only because of support from people like you that we've been able to come this far in the fight for the freedom to marry in all fifty states. I can't thank you enough for everything you've done to help SAVE fight for South Florida's LGBTQ community over the years.
With your continued support, I'm confident that come this June, the Supreme Court will hand down a ruling granting every single American, from sea to shining sea, the freedom to marry. And I'll be proud to stand with you as we celebrate that victory, and going forward, defend our hard-fought wins.
Thank you again for all that you do.
God bless America,
Tony Lima, Executive Director
From State Representative David Richardson:
In a historic vote today, the Florida Senate approved an adoption bill I originally amended in the Florida House of Representatives to repeal the discriminatory gay adoption ban that was added to law thirty-eight years ago.
While the courts ruled this provision unconstitutional a few years ago, I have been told there was still some discrimination on this issue. The bill now goes to Governor Scott's desk for review, and I hope he will sign it quickly.
I want to thank the bipartisan coalition in the Florida House and Senate that voted to pass this important legislation. I want to give a special shout out to Senator Don Gaetz who was a champion for the adoption bill, including the amendment repealing the gay adoption ban.
Make no mistake, I would not have been able to accomplish this action with out the help of so many other representatives and senators. I too appreciate the help of SAVE and others in helping me win this historic change -- SAVE staffers and volunteer advocates met with key lawmakers to make the case for equality under Florida's adoption laws.
For the past two years, SAVE has honored me for my efforts at its annual Champions of Equality awards reception. Now, I'd like to return the favor by asking you to join me again this year on Friday, May 8 as SAVE honors three leading lights as its 2015 Champions of Equality. Buy your tickets here. >>
The work SAVE does to support pro-equality advocates like me is only made possible by grassroots supporters like you. By attending Champions of Equality, you can support both SAVE SAVE and our community leaders. I hope you will join me on May 8. Buy your tickets today. >>
Thank you for your continued support for advocates like me and organizations like SAVE.
State Representative David Richardson
Florida's 113th State House District
SAVE and SAVE Foundation are proud to announce today their 2015 Champions of Equality to be honored May 8 at the local LGBT advocacy organization’s tenth annual awards reception and gala.
SAVE established the Champions of Equality awards reception in 2005 to honor people who have significantly advanced the cause of equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in South Florida. The event's honorees this year include transgender advocate Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, local trans activist Arianna Lint, and Florida International University President Dr. Mark B. Rosenberg.
Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen made waves late last year by appearing with his mother, Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for an interview on Miami's CBS4 WFOR in which the two discussed their experiences as the transgender child of a congresswoman and the mother of a transgender child, respectively. Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, born Amanda, is an openly transgender man who currently works for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. His mother Ileana is known for being an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights in the U.S. House of Representatives, and is a founding member -- and currently the only Republican member -- of the LGBT Equality Caucus of the U.S. Congress.
"We know Rigo as our child, whether it’s Amanda or now as Rodrigo," Ros-Lehtinen told interviewer Jim Defede, advising parents of transgender children not to "freak out" and adding that parents should love their kids no matter what, "because that is your child…never reject your child."
Speaking about his coming out as a transgender man -- the son of a leading United States congresswoman no less -- Rodrigo admitted that "no one else may have known," but that he was proud to be "sharing that honesty with other people for the first time." The joint appearance was hailed as a great leap forward for the visibility of the trans community locally and nationally.
SAVE's is proud to honor as its second Champion of Equality this year Dr. Mark B. Rosenberg, who served as served as chancellor for the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida from 2005-2008, and has served as the President of Florida International University since 2009. During his tenure at the head of FIU, the school has taken a leading role in the movement nationwide to make college campuses more affirming and accepting towards LGBTQ students and applicants.
Under Dr. Rosenberg's direction, FIU founded and expanded its office of Multicultural Programs and Services (MPAS) LGBTQA initiatives, which strives to reduce homophobia and heterosexism on both FIU campuses through education, advocacy, and awareness. The program contributes to an open campus climate that is safe and accepting for all members of the University community regardless of sexual orientation.
Arianna Lint is another transgender activist being honored as a Champion of Equality for her role in increasing the visibility of the trans community as the Director of Transgender Services for Broward County's very own SunServe. Over the past year, she has been a fearless advocate on behalf of transgender rights as one of SAVE's most prolific spokespersons, appearing on multiple occasions before the Miami-Dade County Commission to speak passionately in favor of non-discrimination protections for the trans community.
Arianna also made her mark this February at the National LGBTQ Task Force's Creating Change conference in Denver, where she stormed the stage at the opening plenary address alongside TransLatin@ Coalition president Bamby Salcedo and over 100 activists, demanding representation and employment of transgender individuals by LGBTQ nonprofit organizations. The demonstration generated national headlines and was hailed as a turning point for the trans rights movement.
In addition to the three Champions of Equality honorees, SAVE will induct into its Hall of Champions the HIV/AIDS prevention organization Impulse Group, a project funded in part by AIDS Healthcare Foundation with chapters in eight cities across the globe, including one based in the LGBT destination city of Ft. Lauderdale, and another planned to open soon in China. Ft. Lauderdale chapter director A.J. Alegria will accept the award on behalf of the organization, which SAVE recognizes for its work in raising awareness and reducing transmissions of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among some of South Florida's most at-risk communities.
“It’s SAVE’s honor to recognize these leaders this year,” said SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima. “In their own ways, Rodrigo, Arianna, and Dr. Rosenberg have all made invaluable contributions to the cause of LGBTQ equality over the past year. And, of course, I’m so proud to have the privilege of recognizing Impulse Group for its work in stoping the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in the local LGBTQ community.”
This year’s Champions of Equality reception will be held Friday, May 8th, from 6 - 10PM at the lovely Briza on the Bay event space located at 1717 North Bayshore Drive on Biscayne Bay in Downtown Miami. This year’s event will feature music by DJ Maximus 3000 and spirits sponsored by Grey Goose and Bacardi, which will be offering its full repertoire of brands for guests to enjoy at the open bar all night long. Tickets to the event are $150 online in advance and $175 at the door and are currently available for sale at www.championsofequality.com.
This past Saturday, March 21st SAVE had another hugely successful canvassing event in Miami at Florida International University. We are SO proud of the turn out and we can't wait for the next action!
“I’m here today because I believe in equality and you can’t just believe in something and not fight for it,” said Alex, one of the 40+ excited volunteers that attended the canvass. “What’s the point of believing in it if you’re not going to do something about it?”
We totally agree Alex! That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.
The main purpose of the canvass was to inform voters about the need for protections from discrimination for transgender Floridians, and the danger of proposals like HB 583.
HB583 is a bill currently under consideration in Florida's legislature which criminalizes access to public facilities by transgender individuals. The proposal is ill-informed and mean-spirited, and it works to undo local protections from discrimination for transgender people like the one SAVE helped pass in December 2014.
It all started at around 9:30AM and the volunteers were briefed and taught more about the bill, why they’re there, and how to speak with voters about this cause. SAVE organizers Charo Valero & Justin Klecha were accompanied by organizers Steve Deline, Justine Gonzalez, Ella Barrett, and Virginia Escobar from the Los Angeles LGBT Center's Leadership LAB.
Along with the National LGBTQ Task force, the Leadership LAB has partnered with SAVE this year on a pioneer project aimed at figuring out how to best reach voters when it comes to transgender equality.
The canvassing took place in different parts of Miami -- Coral Gables, The Roads, and Coral Gate. Volunteers went door to door to speak about HB 583 and about how this affects the transgender community in hopes to change the perspectives of voters about what it means to be transgender and why it's important for cities and counties to protect their transgender residents from discrimination.
Canvassers came back at around 3PM. Their hard work had totally paid off and the total results consisted of over 100 conversations with Miami-Dade voters. Way to go SAVE!
Our next transgender prejudice reduction canvass is on Saturday, April 11. Join us!
A big THANK YOU to all the volunteers who came this past Saturday. We’re one step ahead in fighting transphobia. Be sure to share your photos/videos on Twitter and Instagram using #TeamEquality.
Local policies affect our day-to-day lives -- and that's why it's so important to elect pro-equality leaders.
Elections are coming up on April 14, 2015 in Miami Shores and Coral Gables. This is your chance to make your voice heard in favor of equality!
Scroll down to view the candidates playing for #TeamEquality.
SAVE Action PAC is proud to endorse the following candidates in the April 14, 2015 Miami Shores Village Council Elections:
for Miami Shores Village Council
for Miami Shores Village Council
for Miami Shores Village Council
SAVE Action PAC is proud to endorse the following candidates in the April 14, 2015 City of Coral Gables General Municipal Elections:
for Coral Gables Mayor / City Commission - Group I
for Coral Gables City Commission - Group V
These candidates received SAVE Action PAC's endorsement after a rigorous vetting process conducted by members of the local LGBT community.
They've been equality-approved by people just like you, and we're confident they'll make us proud if elected to serve their communities.
Skip the lines! Vote by mail!
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is April 8. Click here to check your voter registration status and request an absentee ballot. >>
Thanks for your support!
UPDATE: HB 583 has cleared its first hurdle towards becoming law in Florida -- the Civil Justice Subcommittee of the Florida House of Representatives has voted to move forward on consideration of this bill. Contact your legislators! Click here to tell them to vote NO on moving forward with HB 583.
We hate to break the news, but our worst fears have been confirmed: the Florida legislature will move forward on HB 583, a bill criminalizing use of public facilities by transgender Floridians.
After a two-year battle, SAVE won transgender nondiscrimination protections in Miami-Dade County last December. This proposal would not only undo that measure, but it would also undo similar laws in cities and counties throughout Florida.