We are so proud to announce today the selection of Benjamin "Brotha Ben" Evans, Wilton Manors Commissioner Justin Flippen, social justice advocate LJ Woolston, HIV/AIDS activist Jason King, and community advocate Lutze Segu as the recipients of SAVE's 2016 Young Guardians' Luminary Awards! Congrats all around!
The 4th annual Luminary Awards will be held again this year atop the Bacardí headquarter building in Coral Gables on Thursday, August 18, from 6-9PM. Tickets are now on sale at the presale price of $50 at www.save.lgbt/luminaries.
In the face of what has often been an uphill battle to defend the rights of our community, these five leaders have bravely stood up to help further LGBTQ equality.
None of what we've achieved for equality over the past year would have been possible without young leaders like our 2016 Luminaries fighting the good fight at the front lines of the battle. We’re so proud to honor them this August.
Will you join us as we honor Brotha Ben, Commissioner Flippen, LJ, Jason, and Lutze on August 18? Click here to buy your presale tickets now. >>
Scroll down to read more about our 2016 Luminaries of Equality honorees:
Benjamin "Brotha Ben" Evans
Ben Evans III, is a Baptist minister, motivational speaker and Managing Director of BMe Community where he oversees the execution of a national campaign strategy to build caring and prosperous communities inspired by Black men. Last year, Ben made headlines when he came out as gay in a column posted on The Root, the popular online magazine covering the Black community.
Ben has over 10 years experience in public, government, and business relations. He is a graduate of Florida A & M University where he received his bachelors in accounting and masters of business administration. He is immediate past chair of the South Florida Youth Summit and served as Youth Pastor and Vice President of the Board of Directors of Bible Based Church. Benjamin currently leads a national tour for the book REACH: 40 Black Men Speaking on Living, Leading and Succeeding by Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters and Forwarded by Russell Simmons.
Commissioner Justin Flippen
Justin Flippen is a Broward County native with a long record of leadership in South Florida. After receiving his law degree from the University of Florida, he worked as a legislative assistant, eventually working his way up to winning election as Commissioner of Wilton Manors in 2008. He served a term as Vice Mayor and was re-elected handily in 2014.
When marriage equality became legal in 2015, Justin officiated the Valentine's Day marriages of nearly 40 couples at city hall as part of a city-sponsored marriage equality mass wedding program called We Do! He successfully worked to have Wilton Manors become the first city in Broward County to raise the Pride Flag outside a city hall for National LGBT Pride Month and then less than a year later to have Wilton Manors become the first city in the nation to permanently raise the Pride Flag as the foundation to a monument and memorial dedicated to the contributions of the LGBT community and their allies. In 2016, he supported a measure directing the City to look into how to fund transgender health insurance benefits, and he led the initiative for Wilton Manors to be the first city in Broward County and one of the first in Florida to ban conversion therapy on minors.
Landon ("LJ") Woolston is an advocate and activist, artist, youth worker, a trans-pan-queer Miami native, and a 2015 Point Foundation Scholar. LJ received his Master of Social Work degree from Florida International University, and is dedicated to using his privilege to interrupt oppression, standing alongside and amplifying the narratives of those who are most marginalized in our communities.
For the last three years, LJ has served as the Homeless Service Liaison for Project SAFE, a collaborative program between Pridelines and The Alliance for GLBTQ Youth. In his role, LJ provides direct service, training, and ongoing advocacy, acting as both a resource and a voice for LGBTQ young people experiencing homelessness in Miami. In addition to his work and social justice advocacy, LJ uses his photography as activism, as a radical medium for trans/queer folk to explore themselves and to document their varied paths toward self-discovery, body-love and self-love.
Across his work, volunteerism, and activism, LJ is most committed to affirming and empowering queer youth. By equipping young people with community support, resources, and knowledge around self-advocacy, LJ hopes to see the eventual elimination of the many barriers that prevent LGBTQ youth from living whole and authentic lives.
Jason started working for AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in 2010 in the organization’s pharmacy division where he discovered his passion for patient advocacy. Jason now serves as Advocacy and Legislative Affairs Manager in AHF’s Southern Bureau, where he leads local and nationwide advocacy efforts and maintains relations with state and federal officials. He is a member of Impulse, a national HIV prevention group funded by AHF for sexually active gay men 18 to 35.
Jason has been HIV positive for 10 years and aims to have an active role in reducing stigma that revolves around HIV/AIDS especially in the gay community. In his free time, Jason is a runner, a Pride Center volunteer and a classical pianist. Jason was also named the ADAP Advocacy Associations’s (aaa+) 2011 Emerging Leader of the Year.
Lutze is the former Program Director of MCCJ. She has led MetroTown, a week long social justice camp for high school students, for which her work received recognition in the Miami Herald. Teens describe the camp as a life-changing experience. Lutze truly pours her heart into making it a safe space for all regardless of race, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, and physical ability.
She recently joined the Miami Workers Center as the Gender Justice organizer, where she is responsible for developing a comprehensive sex education campaign to be implemented in Miami-Dade County public schools. She also helped coordinate and facilitate the Community Circle for Black Lives in the wake of the murder of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. She also extended her services to Pridelines to facilitate a circle for those who are LGTBQ and who work with LGBTQ youth in hopes of healing the healers in the wake of the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
Bacardí is proud to sponsor SAVE's 2016 Luminary Awards. Luminaries 2016 guests will enjoy an open bar with full selection of Bacardí repertoire of spirits and beverages.
Thank you for your support. We'll see you August 18!
After a bombshell report by Freedom for All Americans identified the national Family Policy Alliance and its affiliated Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC) as ringleaders of a $150 million effort to push anti-LGBT legislation nationwide, South Florida LGBT group SAVE is calling on Florida Senator Marco Rubio to renounce his endorsement by Orlando lawyer and political insider John Stemberger, who leads the FFPC.
One of Florida's most notorious anti-LGBT activists, Stemberger directed "Florida Family Action," his well-funded network of extreme anti-gay donors, to support the re-election of Marco Rubio in a post shared on the Senator's own Facebook page on June 27.
"I'm honored to receive John Stemberger's endorsement," added the Senator in the accompanying caption pictured in the screenshot below:
In response to the revelation of Stemberger's involvement in the coordinated nationwide effort to funnel cash into the political push for anti-LGBT legislation, SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima issued the following statement on Stemberger's support for Rubio:
I cannot overstate the threat that another six years of Marco Rubio represents to the LGBTQ community in Florida and nationwide. He is cozying up to the same John Stemberger who went after Florida's only openly gay legislator, State Rep. David Richardson, for supporting nondiscrimination laws -- calling them "weapons to punish Christians" which enable "sex offenders and pedophiles." The same John Stemberger who said that "two moms, or two dads, are an objectively inferior choice" when it comes to LGBTQ parents.
Marco Rubio doesn’t represent our community or ordinary Floridians -- and his preference for anti-LGBT money from John Stemberger's deep pocketed network of out-of-state donors makes that reality painfully clear. SAVE calls on Senator Rubio to disavow John Stemberger's antigay endorsement, or otherwise face the pro-equality majority of Florida voters come November 8th.
The report released today by Freedom for all Americans, entitled "Enemies of Equality," implicates Stemberger, as president of the Family Policy Alliance-affiliated FFPC, in a $150 million effort to push anti-LGBT legislation in 34 states alongside well-known leaders of Southern Poverty Law Center-identified hate groups such as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and James Dobson of Focus on the Family -- which is itself affiliated with Stemberger's Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council, according to the FFPC's website.
In an effort to combat the financial support that SAVE expects anti-LGBT politicians to receive from Stemberger's network, the LGBT organization has launched its own effort to match and exceed that level of support from ordinary pro-equality Floridians under the hashtag #TeamEquality.
"By speaking together with one voice, we can make sure equality prevails," wrote Lima earlier today in an email to supporters. "It’s up to us to show Senator Rubio what REAL representatives of Floridians look like, and you can do that by making sure #TeamEquality has the resources we’ll need to WIN."
So far, SAVE Action PAC, the electoral arm of SAVE, has endorsed 27 pro-equality candidates in local races on August 30, with more endorsements to be announced soon. For more information about SAVE Action PAC's #TeamEquality 2016 campaign efforts, events, and endorsements, please go to save.lgbt/2016.
At the urging of SAVE and Commissioner John Aleman, the Miami Beach City Commission has just voted to ban the practice of dangerous and discredited anti-LGBTQ "conversion therapy."
Thank Representative Richardson, Commissioner Aleman, Mayor Philip Levine and the Miami Beach Commissioners for taking this bold action to protect LGBTQ children! Click here add your name. >>
Also known as “reparative therapy,” this practice is actually not a clinically tested medical therapy at all. This so-called "therapy" is really a dangerous and discredited practice that falsely claims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
Such practices have been condemned by every mainstream medical and mental health organization as bordering on torture, but due to continuing societal bias against LGBTQ people, practice of so-called "conversion therapy" continues without any legal consequence.
Minors are especially vulnerable to the dangers of this sham "cure" for being LGBTQ, and the use of so-called "conversion therapy," especially in LGBTQ children and teenagers, has been tragically proven to lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, self-harm and suicide.
Today's final vote came as a result of the Florida legislature's failure to pass HB137 -- a bill filed by Miami Beach's own outspoken LGBTQ advocate State Representative David Richardson -- which would have outlawed conversion therapy statewide. In the face of such inaction on conversion therapy, SAVE and Rep. Richardson turned instead to local lawmakers to do the work that the legislature refused.
So called "conversion therapy" finds its basis in the prejudiced and outdated view that being LGBTQ is a mental illness in need of treatment. Of course, we know today that being LGBTQ is not a disease, and that sexual orientation and gender identity are psychological traits that generally cannot be changed.
Click here to thank the Miami Beach Commission for taking this crucial action to outlaw conversion therapy! >>
This bold action was only possible because of engaged citizens like you making your voices heard. Thank you for your support.
SAVE Action PAC endorses Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for re-election to U.S. House from Florida's 27th district!
SAVE Action PAC is proud to endorse Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for re-election as the U.S. Representative for Florida's 27th Congressional district!
Earlier this month, SAVE enjoyed the privilege of hosting the Congresswoman, her son, Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, and her husband, Dexter Lehtinen at Miami-Dade College for the debut of our groundbreaking nondiscrimination PSA, "Family is Everything."
The Congresswoman and her family did a beautiful job articulating our message of inclusion and respect for transgender Americans -- and it was covered by the New York Times and even made it onto The View!
Additionally, over the years, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen has made herself known as a champion for LGBTQ rights. For many years, she was the sole Republican in the House LGBT Equality caucus, and in addition to being a founding member, she was the first House Republican to come out in favor of marriage equality in 2012. She was also the first Republican to co-sponsor a repeal of both the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and the Defense of Marriage Act.
Simply put, without the steadfast support of allies like Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, our movement -- locally AND nationwide -- would not be where it is today. SAVE Action PAC is proud to support Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen for re-election as the Representative from Florida's 27th Congressional district this November.
For more info on SAVE Action PAC's endorsements, as well and how, when, and where to vote, please visit save.lgbt/2016.
Have you heard of something called conversion therapy?
Also known as “reparative therapy,” this practice is actually not a clinically tested medical therapy at all. This so-called "therapy" is really a dangerous and discredited practice that falsely claims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.Read more
Big news! SAVE Action PAC is proud to announce its endorsement of Senator Dwight Bullard, Senator Gwen Margolis, Representative David Richardson and Representative Holly Raschein in the 2016 state legislator elections!
Their respective races are as follows:
- Senator Dwight Bullard for Senate District 40
- Senator Gwen Margolis for Senate District 38
- Representative David Richardson for House District 113
- Representative Holly Raschein for House District 120
These four leaders have served South Florida's LGBTQ community so admirably over the past session. This year more than ever before, we have the opportunity to add to the ranks of pro-equality members of the Florida legislature.
We're proud to be represented by such a supportive South Florida delegation, and we look forward to shoring up pro-equality voters' support for these leaders.
To contribute to SAVE Action PAC's critical 2016 effort to turn out pro-equality voters in South Florida, please click HERE. >>
Since 2012, Senator Dwight Bullard has represented the 39th Senate district, which includes parts of Miami-Dade County and much of Southwest Florida including the Keys. During the most recent legislative session, he stood with the LGBTQ community by voting NO on the so-called "pastor protection" act which falsely purported to "protect" clergy from being "forced" to marry gay and lesbian couples -- a protection already made clear under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
As a result of court-mandated legislative redistricting for the upcoming election cycle, Bullard will run this year for the 40th Senate district, which includes much of the western half of the City of Miami and contains parts of the old 39th district. SAVE Action PAC is proud to support his bid to represent the 40th Senate district.
Senator Gwen Margolis is currently the longest-serving member of the Florida Senate. First elected to the Senate in 1981, she served in the Florida House for the five years prior, and would become the first woman to preside over any state's Senate during the 1990-92 legislative term. In 1994, she won a seat as a Miami-Dade County Commissioner, which she held until running for the State Senate again in 2010.
Since becoming Senator again (representing the 35th Senate district), Margolis has taken every opportunity to stand with South Florida's LGBTQ community. In the most recent legislative session, Margolis voted NO on the so-called "pastor protection" act, an inflammatory but ultimately meaningless ploy by extremist opponents of equality to pit Florida's faithful against the LGBTQ community. Among other notable pro-equality votes during her career, she was also among the Miami-Dade County Commissioners to vote YES on passage of gay and lesbian nondiscrimination protections in 1998.
As of 2016, as a result of court-mandated legislative redistricting, Senator Margolis's residence is no longer in the redrawn 35th district, which means that if she wants to run for the State Senate again, she must either move to a new residence in the redrawn 35th district or run in a new district. She has opted to run in the newly-created 38th district, which includes parts of northwest Miami-Dade County. SAVE Action PAC strongly supports Senator Margolis's bid to represent the State Senate's 38th district.
Representative David Richardson became Florida's first openly gay state legislator when coastal Miami-Dade's 113th House district elected him in August 2012. Since then, he has served in Tallahassee admirably on behalf of not only the people of the 113th district, but also the greater South Florida LGBTQ community.
As a member of the Florida House Rep. Richardson's accomplishments include fighting to provide state funding to tackle the problem of homelessness among LGBT youth. He also spearheaded the addition of protections for LGBT children and teenagers in the state foster care system, and he was an outspoken supporter of pro-equality candidates during the 2014 election cycle.
In December 2014, Richardson became the first openly LGBTQ individual to serve in a leadership position in the Florida legislature when the House Democratic Caucus selected him as Floor Leader. SAVE Action PAC endorses David Richardson's bid for re-election as the Representative of Florida's 113th House district.
Keys and South Dade Representative Holly Raschein helped make history for the movement for LGBTQ equality in Florida during the most recent legislative session, introducing the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) in the State House and successfully helping push for its first ever hearing in the State Senate after being introduced every session for the past decade.
"To me, this isn't just a social issue or a business issue," she said in December 2014 of her plans to introduce the FCWA. "This is an issue that cuts to the core of who we are as Americans. Our great nation was founded on principles of freedom, liberty and equality of opportunity. How can we claim to be upholding these principles that we hold so near and dear to our hearts when some of our friends and neighbors can still be fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance?"
Due in part to her outspoken advocacy on behalf of workplace equality in Florida, SAVE chose Raschein as one of its honorees at its upcoming Champions of Equality fundraiser on June 5. SAVE Action PAC is proud to endorse Holly Raschein's bid for re-election as the Representative of Florida's 120th House district.
SAVE Action PAC congratulates Senator Bullard, Senator Margolis, Representative Richardson and Representative Raschein on their endorsements in their races!
For more information about SAVE Action PAC's campaign efforts, events, and endorsements, please go to save.lgbt/2016. Thanks for your support!
If you've been following the news lately, you've probably heard about anti-LGBTQ laws recently passed in Mississippi and North Carolina.
These laws, which criminalize bathroom use by transgender people and sanction discrimination against LGBTQ North Carolinians and Mississippians, are similar to proposals SAVE beat back in the Florida legislature in 2015 and 2016.