The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, February 19
February 19th, 2013
Florida Senate Committee To Hear Bill On Domestic Partner Protection: Tallahassee, FL. I’ll bet you didn’t know that nearly half of all Floridians live in communities with local Domestic Partnership registries, including Miami-Dade, Orange County (Orlando), Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale), Tampa, Gainesville, Clearwater, Key West, and others. SB 196, the “Families First” bill, is now before the state Senate, and would establish a domestic partnership statewide and provide limited but important legal protectionsfor registered same-sex partners. Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs will meet this afternoon to consider the bill, beginning at 1:00 p.m. in the Mallory Horne Committee Room, 37 of the Senate Office Building.
Equality Florida notes that this hearing will occur exactly six years to the day that Janice Langbehn’s life partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, died at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital after Langbehn was denied access to visit Lisa. That case drew national attention, leading President Barack Obama to issue an Executive Memo requiring all hospitals which receive Medicaid funding to treat domestic partners as family. Last year, Langbehn was honored by President Barack Obama with the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor, for her efforts.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Raid on Hazel’s Inn: 1956. San Mateo County Sheriff Earl Whitmore, accompanied by deputies, Army military police, state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents and members of the California Highway Patrol, began the raid by striding into Hazel’s Inn, a gay bar in Sharp Park, south of San Fricisco, and announced simply, “This is a raid!” Patrons were orderd to line up in single fule and pass before a group of officers at the rear of the door. Those who were recognized by undercover agents as being gay were ordered to step to one side and loaded into a waiting van outside. About 88 of the 200 or more patrons were singled out and taken away to be fingerprinted, their mug shots taken, and charged with vagrancy for being a “lewd and dissolute person” and for committing “acts outraging public decency” — common misdemeanor charges used against those deemed to be engaging in “immoral” acts, which in this case was, basically, being caught in a gay bar. The bars owners were also charged with operating a dance establishment without a license (some patrons were seen dancing to a jukebox).
Sheriff Whitmore told the press, “The purpose of th raid is to make it very clear to these people that we won’t put up iwth this sort of thing.” The American Civil Liberties Union of San Francisco’s Executive Secretary Ernest Besig took exception to that reasonging. “As far as can be ascertained, none of the patrons of the tavern were misbehaving or breaking any laws when the arrests occurred,” he wrote in the chapter’s newsletter. “The complaint seems to be that these men were making the tavern a ‘hang-out.’ Of course, there is no law against that, so long as their activity was lawful. …The ACLU is investigating the matter and the local staff counsel will appear on behalf of some of the alleged homosexuals at the court hearing.”
Those who were arrested were told by law enforcement officers and their bail bondsmen that if they forfeited bail, all further proceedings would be dropped. Thirty took them up on the officer, and on March 1, the remaining 57 were arraigned. About 30 entered not guilty pleas and requrested jury trials, which were set for March 26 and 27. The judge offered to reduce the charge to disorderly conduct in exchange for guilty pleas, and all but three took him up on that offer.
[Sources: Unsigned. "Civil Liberties Union looks into mass arrests." Mattachine Review 2, 2nd special issue (March 1956): 4-5.
Unsigned. "American Civil Liberties Union acts to appeal California's lewd vagrancy laws after convictions resulting from mass raids and arrests." Mattachine Review 2, no. 3 (June 1956): 3-4, 36.]
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