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.
We are proud to announce our 2016 Champions of Equality to be honored June 5 at the tenth annual awards reception and brunch, to be held this year aboard the Lady Windridge yacht docked at Downtown Miami's Bayfront Park.
The Champions of Equality awards reception was established to honor people who have significantly advanced the cause of equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in South Florida.
Congrats to our 2016 Champions of Equality Honorees:
Roxanne "Roxy" Vargas is a daily reporter on South Florida's NBC 6 and also contributes to NBC 6’s sister station, Telemundo 51 with reports in Spanish. Previously, Vargas was on the NBC 6 news at 5am, covering breaking and national news, features, entertainment, health and consumer news. She joined the NBC 6 News team in May 2007 and has been part of the NBC 6 family since 2003. Voted “Best TV Host” by the Miami New Times in 2012, she’s currently the host of NBC 6’s lifestyle and entertainment show, “6 in the Mix” which airs weekdays at 11:30am.
Among various distinctions, Roxy has received five Emmy nominations for her reporting and hosting. In 2014, she joined an elite group of women around the world such as Brooke Shields, Demi Moore and Maria Shriver, and was inducted into famed fashion designer Donna Karan’s Women Who Inspire Program. She was humbled by the community when she was awarded Favorite Media Personality in the LGBT Visitor Center’s Pink Flamingo Awards and received and Ally Award from Aqua Foundation for Women earlier this year.
"At NBC 6 we are committed to equality for South Florida's LGBTQ community, and I am so proud to accept this award on behalf of the entire NBC6 family," Roxy told SAVE in response to the announcement. "It's an honor to be chosen as a Champion this year, and I'll continue to strive to shine light on the important stories that we all need to hear."
Holly Raschein serves as the State Representative to the Florida House for the 120th District, encompassing southern Miami-Dade County and the Keys. In her role in Tallahassee, Holly has served South Florida's LGBTQ community admirably as the House sponsor of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which succeeded this year in securing its first committee hearing in the Florida Senate after ten years of attempts.
In sponsoring the Competitive Workforce Act, Representative Raschein has demonstrated a unique willingness to work with members of both parties to get things done in Tallahassee. She has worked closely with all stakeholders, ranging from advocacy organizations like SAVE to Floridian businesses to the leadership of the State Legislature in order to build consensus around the way forward on this critical piece of legislation.
"I was proud to sponsor the Competitive Workforce Act in the House," said Raschein in response to SAVE's announcement. "It's an honor to be chosen as one of SAVE's Champions of Equality, and I promise that I will not let up on this issue until all South Floridians are protected from workplace discrimination."
The Right Reverend Leopoldo "Leo" Frade made it his life's work as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida to fight for justice for the oppressed and for the LGBTQ community especially. His outspoken stance in favor of accepting everyone as God's children traces back back to his time as Bishop of Honduras in the 1980s.
In 1984, he remembers seeing a Honduran preacher on TV telling people that if they had a gay son, “He is demon processed,” encouraging them to beat the “demon” out of the person. “I said, ‘Oh my God, this guy is preaching to hundreds of people,’ and they were buying it,” he told the Miami Herald last May. “I thought it was important for the church to speak up. What I was preaching in Honduras was the fact that we cannot kill them or beat them — and it still happens today. I was called a devil’s agent.”
When churches refused to bury LGBT Hondurans who died at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, Frade’s church in San Pedro Sula did. “For a whole year we were the only church burying gay people in Honduras — in the whole country,” he told the Herald. SAVE is proud to honor Bishop Frade for his lifelong commitment and outspoken advocacy for LGBTQ equality in his high-ranking position within the Episcopal Church.
Dr. Hansel Tookes III is an infectious diseases researcher for Jackson Memorial Hospital specializing in HIV/AIDS who served a stint on SAVE's Board of Directors in 2014. SAVE is proud to honor him for his outspoken advocacy for a crucial needle exchange program in South Florida since his days as a student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in 2010, when he and several classmates spent months interviewing intravenous drug users in Miami.
In addition to having one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the U.S., like much of the rest of the country during this decade, “we have seen the outbreak of a heroin epidemic in Miami,” he told the Miami Herald of his studies. “We are seeing more and more patients hospitalized for infections directly related to use of dirty needles: heart infections, sepsis, abscesses. These infections are all preventable.”
Dr. Tookes has visited Tallahassee every year since 2013 to lobby for funding for the needle-exchange program, which studies show significantly reduces the rate of HIV transmission among intravenous drug users -- an especially high-risk population accounting for a large number of new HIV infections -- at negligible economic and social cost by distributing clean needles for free, so that users are discouraged from sharing needles with others. After failing in three consecutive legislative sessions, the proposal finally passed early this year, due in no small part to the tenacious lobbying on the part of Dr. Tookes.
In addition to the four honorees, SAVE this year will also induct into its Hall of Champions the inaugural Gay8 Festival and its founders, Damian Pardo and Joe Cardona. Gay8 Festival, a cultural event celebrating Little Havana's LGBTQ community, enjoyed runaway success in holding its founding event on Calle Ocho in January to a sold-out crowd of thousands of revelers.
“It’s SAVE’s honor to recognize these leaders this year,” said SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima. “In their own ways, Enrique, Rep. Raschein, Rev. Frade, and Dr. Tookes 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 honoring Gay8 Festival and its founders, Damian Pardo and Joe Cardona, as our 2016 Hall of Champions inductees in recognition of the success of the inaugural event in Little Havana in January."
This year’s Champions of Equality brunch and reception will be held Sunday, June 5th, from 1 - 5PM aboard the lovely Lady Windridge yacht docked at Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami. Tickets to the event are $150 online and will be $175 at the door and are currently available for sale at www.championsofequality.com.