Posts Tagged As: Florida

Reports: Shooter Pledged Allegiance to ISIS

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

Both CNN and NBC are reporting that shortly before the shooting, Omar Mateen called 911 and claimed allegiance to ISIS.

Council On American-Islamic Relations React

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any gropu that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence.

Rasha Mubarak, the Orlando regional coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Blood Donors Needed In Orlando, But Many Gay Men Can’t Donate

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

If this doesn’t beat all:

The need for blood after a shooting at a gay nightclub resurfaced complaints on social media about limits on gay men’s ability to donate blood. In December, the Food and Drug Administration lifted a lifetime ban for gay men, but continued to prohibit men from donating if they had had sex with men in the past year.

Equality Florida Reacts

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

This is a press release sent out by Equality Florida:

We are reeling from the tragic news that a gunman opened fire on the 2am capacity crowd at Pulse leaving 50 people dead and over 50 injured according to preliminary reports.

We are heartbroken and angry that senseless violence has once again destroyed lives in our state and in our country.

Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety. June commemorates our community standing up to anti-LGBTQ violence at the Stonewall Inn, the nightclub that has become the first LGBTQ site recognized as a national monument.

We have received a steady stream of emails and messages from those seeking to help or to make sense of the senseless. We make no assumptions on motive. We will await the details in tears of sadness and anger. We stand in solidarity and keep our thoughts on all whose lives have been lost or altered forever in this tragedy.

Plans are underway for the following. More details to come.

* The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida is now open and offering grief counseling to those affected by the Pulse Orlando massacre. They are encouraging anyone who needs help and support to please come to the center.
Address: 946 N Mills Ave Orlando, Florida 32803
Phone Number: (407) 228-8272
Website: http://www.thecenterorlando.org/

*For anyone needing support today, you may call the Zebra Coalition hotline at (407) 228-1446 to speak to a counselor.

* OneBlood, the local blood bank in Orlando, has posted an EMERGENCY need for O-, O+, and AB Plasma in the light of last night’s tragedy. If any of you have a chance today to go donate blood or plasma PLEASE DO. You could very well save someone’s life. To find a donation center or Big Red Bus near you visit www.oneblood.org or call 1.888.9Donate.

First Unitarian Church
1901 East Robinson Street
Orlando, FL 32803
now through 1 PM

Weingarten Realty
2566 E Colonial Drive
>12 pm-6 pm

Orlando Donor Center
8669 Commodity Circle
now til 1 o’clock

West Orlando Donor Center
345 W Michigan St Suite 106
now til 2 o’clock

* A vigil tomorrow pending clearance from police. To receive updates on the vigil with details as we receive them, sign up here: http://www.eqfl.org/pulse_vigil

* A GoFundMe account has been set up to help raise funds for the victims and families of the horrific Orlando Pulse Nighclub Shooting: https://www.gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund

Early Reactions

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

From CNN:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. “The President asked to receive regular updates as the FBI, and other federal officials, work with the Orlando Police to gather more information, and directed that the federal government provide any assistance necessary to pursue the investigation and support the community.”

Lisa Monaco, Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, briefed the President, Earnest said. He said Obama asked for regular updates as federal and state officials investigate the shooting, which killed 50 people and wounded at least 53 others.

Vice President Joe Biden has also been briefed on the shooting and canceled a planned trip to Miami, Florida, to attend a fundraiser for Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

Biden “offered his prayers for all those killed and injured in the shooting and sends his condolences to all the families and loved ones of the victims,” according to a statement from his spokesman.

Other reactions came in via Twitter

By the way, Rick Scott has spent the about five minutes talking about this on TV without mentioning the word “gay” once. Good job Rick!

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 8.57.35 AM

That last one is from Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, whose account tweeted that out hours after the shooting started. The time stamp at precisely 5:00 a.m. suggests it was a previously scheduled tweet. It has since been deleted in the past half hour (sometime after 10:20 a.m. Central Time)

“Mommy I Love You”

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

From the LA Times:

Witnesses said they heard at least 40 shots fired, and one witness said the shooting lasted the length of an entire song. As bullets tore through the crowd, men and women took cover by dropping to the floor and crawling for cover. Some apparently hid in the restrooms, including one man whose texts to his mother were broadcast over WFTV-TV:

“Mommy I love you”

“In club they shooting”

“He’s coming”

“I’m gonna die”

“He’s in the bathroom with us”

The fate of the young man, who was not identified by the station, was not immediately known. Just after the shooting, Pulse Orlando posted a note to its Web page that said, “Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running.”

DEVELOPING: At Least 50 Dead, 53 Injured In Orlando Gay Night Club Massacre

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

orl-mass-shooting-orlando-wre0039064821-20160612

It is being called the worst mass shooting in U.S. history since the 1921 Greenwood Massacre in Tulsa. These are the basic facts. Shooting broke out shortly after 2:00 a.m. in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.  A police officer was working in the club and exchanged fire with the gunman, identified as Omar Mateen, 29, from Ft. Pierce. Mateen then took about thirty hostages until about 5.00 a.m. when a SWAT team came in to free the hostages. Mateen was killed in the massive barrage of gunfire during the shootout.

The club was packed with about 320 people. As the shooting started, some mistook the gunfire as part of the music, similar to what happened during the first few seconds of the Bataclan theater massacre in Paris. As the tragedy unfolded, the city of Orlando ran out of ambulances to take the injured to hospitals. Some were transported by pickup trucks. Around 2 a.m., Pulse Orlando posted an urgent message on Facebook: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”

Reports about Mateen himself and his possible motives are conflicting right now. His parents are from Afghanistan, but he may have been born in the U.S. He was a U.S. citizen, and worked as a security guard in Ft. Pierce. His father told NBC News that the motive was not religious, but that Mateen became angry two weeks ago when he saw two men kissing in Miami. One report says that Mateen had a license to carry guns. It’s not known whether the guns used in this massacre, which included an AR-15, were legal. Reports also say that police are including a possible terror motive as part of their investigation. Police say that Mateen was “previously known” to law enforcement, but say that he was not under active investigation as of last night. NBC reports that Mateen was in a database as a person of interest, not necessarily as part of a direct investigation but for the potential of  what NBC described as “peripheral associations.”

The L.A. Times put this in context:

Now no other American mass shooting comes close to the lives lost in Orlando on Sunday morning. Not at Columbine High School in Colorado, where 13 people died in 1999; nor in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people were killed in 2012; nor at Virginia Tech, where 32 people were killed in 2007.

The Target Trolls Are On the Loose

Jim Burroway

May 16th, 2016

There’s never been a problem with Target’s bathrooms. People go in, they do what they need to do, and then they leave. And so when Target announced that people could go into whichever bathroom was most appropriate for them, all they did was confirm what had already been going on. But the American Family Association and other anti-LGBT groups see it differently, and have announced yet another of their uncountable boycotts. Unlike the others, this one seems to be having one effect: Bible-waving zealots have taken to marching through Target stores screaming, “Are you gonna let the devil rape your children?”

This guy in Colorado Springs took a different approach, while also trying to prove that zealots are not creativity-challenged:

There still have been no reported incidents of a transwoman assaulting anyone in a woman’s bathroom. However, this video of a man stalking a woman at a Florida Target — he’s a man dressed as a man — is making the rounds, as though it was somehow relevant.

From Sarasota FL comes another Christian cake baker

Timothy Kincaid

September 16th, 2015

Florida removes gay adoption ban from its books

Timothy Kincaid

June 12th, 2015

While Michigan is taking steps which will make it more difficult for same-sex couples to adopt, Florida is removing a piece of obsolete law that restricted gay adoption. (tbo.com)

The nearly four-decade-old law that prevents gays from adopting children will disappear from Florida’s statutes on July 1.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill today that removes the language – though the ban hasn’t been enforced for the past five years.

Florida will, gasp, not issue an amicus brief in favor of discrimination

Timothy Kincaid

January 31st, 2015

bondiI’ve been amused and amazed about the level to which our community and our allies have convinced ourselves that Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is Enemy Number One in the battle for marriage equality.

With every step, we’ve railed against the evil evil Bondi and her (half-hearted) defense of Florida’s anti-gay marriage ban. We’ve decried the “bigotry” in her language such as “We want uniformity” and gasped at the blatant animus of “It’s my job to defend the (state) constitution whether I not I agree with it”.

We’ve reported with baited breath that she’s “been filing briefs at a furious pace” in response to eight marriage cases filed against the state. And though other attorneys general (some of them Democrats) have also taken the position that defending the bans are part of their job (with little response), we’ve been stunned at Bondi’s identical stance.

When Bondi’s filings said that federal interference in state marriage laws would “impose significant public harm”, newspapers pulled those few words from the brief and announced that Bondi had said “harm”, ohmigod, she said “harm”, she must think that gay marriages cause HARM!

Yesterday, the media again was shocked, shocked I say, and breathlessly marveled that Bondi was continuing to fight against gay marriage. As evidence, they pointed to her response to inquiries about whether Florida would be filing an amicus brief in marriage cases before the Supreme Court. She, gasp, said that her office hadn’t yet decided! She just won’t give up!!

So today it’s news, NEWS, NEWS!! that Bondi backed down. The state of Florida is not filing a brief with the court. (Herald Tribune)

Friday evening, Bondi’s office said the attorney general would not be filing an amicus brief as the nation’s highest court in April hears a group of cases from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal that has upheld same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

Which is simply shocking!

Unless, of course, you’ve noticed all along that Bondi’s defense of Florida’s marriage ban has been half-assed, perfunctory, and accompanied by a refusal to demean the plaintiffs or their families.

Marriage goes state-wide in Florida

Timothy Kincaid

January 6th, 2015

marriage 2014

dark purple – marriage equality states
light purple – marriage in some counties, the state is still fighting
pink – we have won in federal court but the rulings are stayed on appeal to the Circuit court
orange – we have lost in federal court and are appealing to the Circuit court
red – we have lost in the Circuit court and are appealing to the Supreme Court

The stay has lifted across the state of Florida and all 67 counties have joined Miami-Dade in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Congratulations to all.

They’re Marrying In Miami

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2015

That’s Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge Sarah Zabel, lifting her stay of a July ruling finding Florida’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional. And so thirty-eight years after Anita Bryant raised her ugly puss and six years after 62% of Florida voters agreed to write shameful discrimination into their state constitution, the first same-sex marriages are taking place in Miami:

Karla Arguello and Cathy Pareto are the first same-sex couple to marry in Florida (Source).

Karla Arguello and Cathy Pareto are the first same-sex couple to marry in Florida (Source).

Weddings began around 1:30 p.m., less than three hours after Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel lifted the legal stay she had placed on her sweeping July decision declaring the ban discriminatory.

Two of the six couples who had sued — Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello of Coconut Grove, and Jeff and Todd Delmay of Hollywood — were the first to be married, by Zabel herself.

Jeff and Todd Delmay become Florida's second same-sex couple to marry. (Source)

Jeff and Todd Delmay become Florida’s second same-sex couple to marry. (Source)

Judge Zabel overturned Florida’s ban as Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge, which makes her ruling binding only in Miami-Dade. Her stay expired today. Tonight at midnight, Federal District Judge Robert L. Hinkle’s stay of his ruling that Florida’s marriage equality ban was unconstitutional expires, which opens up same-sex marriage statewide tomorrow.

Judge clarifies Florida ruling; anti-gays remain dishonest

Timothy Kincaid

January 2nd, 2015

marriage 2014

In August of 2014, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle found that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriages violated the provisions of the US Constitution. He placed a stay on his ruling until appeals (and requests for further stays) could be filed with higher courts. No extended stays were granted and Judge Hinkle’s stay expires today on Monday, January 5th.

Washington County Clerk Lora Bell’s requested that Judge Hinkle direct her as to whether this ruling applies only to the plaintiffs, and the state Attorney General asked whether the ruling applied to all county clerks. Yesterday Judge Hinkle provided clarification regarding those to whom his ruling applied.

Hinkle’s order was slightly nuanced and illustrates the care that judges go through to apply not only the spirit of the law, but its technical structure and authorities. There are three major points in what he said

The technical response

In the absence of any request by any other plaintiff for a license, and in the absence of a certified class, no plaintiff now in this case has standing to seek a preliminary injunction requiring the Clerk to issue other licenses. The preliminary injunction now in effect thus does not require the Clerk to issue licenses to other applicants.

Because there were no other parties in the lawsuit and because it was not a class action lawsuit, the rules of the court do not compel this clerk to issue licenses to any other couples.

The real response

Then the judge followed with the clencher:

But as set out in the order that announced issuance of the preliminary injunction, the Constitution requires the Clerk to issue such licenses. As in any other instance involving parties not now before the court, the Clerk’s obligation to follow the law arises from sources other than the preliminary injunction.

In other words, Hinkle is saying, “I’m not the one compelling you to issue this license. The US Constitution compels you to do so. So hell yes! Follow the law!”

The threat

And he preceded this by “clarifying” what would happen to those county clerks who decided that Hinkle’s ruling doesn’t apply to them and that they could just ignore the US Constitution’s protections.

History records no shortage of instances when state officials defied federal court orders on issues of federal constitutional law. Happily, there are many more instances when responsible officials followed the law, like it or not. Reasonable people can debate whether the ruling in this case was correct and who it binds. There should be no debate, however, on the question whether a clerk of court may follow the ruling, even for marriage-license applicants who are not parties to this case. And a clerk who chooses not to follow the ruling should take note: the governing statutes and rules of procedure allow individuals to intervene as plaintiffs in pending actions, allow certification of plaintiff and defendant classes, allow issuance of successive preliminary injunctions, and allow successful plaintiffs to recover costs and attorney’s fees.

Hinkle warned them that if they want to be obstructionist, additional plaintiffs could sue, the case could become a class action, it could be determined by preliminary injunction (almost immediately), and the cost of all of this will come out of that clerk’s budget. In synopsis, Hinkle said that his ruling may be followed by all courts to all same-sex couples. Further, while it could be technically ignored, this is merely a short-term defiance of the US Constitution and an expensive one, at that.

Attorney General Pam Bondi issued a ‘proceed at your own risk’ statement, indicating that she will not be participating in any efforts to defy the judge:

Following significant public confusion about the federal-court injunction, the court today granted the clerk of court’s request for clarification. In the order, the court specified that the injunction does not require a clerk to issue licenses to same-sex couples other than the plaintiffs, but the court stated that “a clerk of court may follow the ruling, even for marriage-license applicants who are not parties to this case.” Attorney General Bondi’s statement is as follows:

“This office has sought to minimize confusion and uncertainty, and we are glad the Court has provided additional guidance. My office will not stand in the way as clerks of court determine how to proceed.”

The law firm advising the Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers had, before the clarification, advised counties not to follow the ruling. Yesterday they issued an advisory opposite of their earlier opinion and recommended that clerks offer licenses. “Judge Hinkle’s order states that any clerk refusing to issue a license could be subject to civil damages and liability for the plaintiffs’ fees and costs,”

But the anti-gay activists are saying something quite else. Florida Family Policy Council (who’s sister group Florida Family Action filed a nutcase lawsuit trying to stop marriages) had this to say:

“Judge Hinkle’s ruling is being widely misinterpreted. It clearly says that only the clerk Washington County is required to issue a marriage license and only to the two persons in that case. Judge Hinkle has no jurisdiction outside of the Northern District of Florida to bind any clerk outside of North Florida. Clerk’s outside of North Florida are required to obey the current law and are still subject to all the penalties of a first-degree misdemeanor for violating it,” said John Stemberger, president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Council.

Liberty Counsel proclaimed “Victory in Federal Court

In a highly anticipated ruling to clarify an August preliminary injunction in the federal case Brenner v. Scott, the district judge agreed with Liberty Counsel that the injunction does not require Florida clerks of court outside Washington County to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on January 6. Indeed, the new order clarifies that the injunction is limited to the plaintiffs in the case, expressly holding, “The preliminary injunction now in effect thus does not require the [Washington County] Clerk to issue licenses to other applicants.”

Misinterpretation is definitely going on. But it isn’t by the Attorney General, the law firm advising the clerks, or the newspapers. To see this as a “victory” for anti-gay forces requires a special kind of blinders and more than a little willingness to deceive oneself and others.

Irrespective of the declarations by anti-gays, the end result will be that starting tomorrow on Tuesday, many counties will be granting marriage licenses to same sex couples. Others may not do so immediately, and they engage in a costly and futile legal entanglement before they, too, do so.

This doesn’t mean smooth sailing. Already some clerks have changed their policies to discontinue all marriage ceremonies conducted by the clerk or at the courthouse – be they same-sex or opposite-sex – based on their religious beliefs that whatever else you do, you must never treat your neighbor how you wish to be treated. But that is likely to be only a minor inconvenience as clergy step in to fill that role.

For all practical purposes, marriage equality has finally come to Florida.

Astonishingly stupid lawsuits from Florida Family Action

Timothy Kincaid

December 30th, 2014

John Stemberger

John Stemberger

As we discussed, last night the plaintiffs and the state of Florida filed briefs in response to Washington County Clerk Lora Bell’s inquiry as to whether Judge Hinkle’s ruling re same-sex marriage applied only to one couple or to all clerks in the state. The plaintiffs argued that the ruling is state-wide and the Attorney General did not disagree.

It is almost certain that Judge Hinkle will clarify that his ruling applies to all members of the state infrastructure in any role they play in issuing, processing, recording, or otherwise dealing with marriage licenses and the rights, obligations, and benefits which derive from them.

But Florida Family Action, an anti-gay advocacy group, is predicting otherwise. And they are now suing those mayors and county clerks which have affirmatively announced that they will issue licenses to same-sex couples or participate in their marriages.

Because they are idiots.

Florida Family Action (FFA) announced today the filing of two lawsuits against three elected officials in Central Florida who have made clear public statements of their intentions to defy Florida law and either issue same-sex marriage licenses or officiate over same-sex marriage ceremonies on or after January 6, 2015.

John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Action organization issued the following statement regarding the lawsuits:

“All three of these officials have shown great contempt and disrespect for the rule of law and are behaving irresponsibly and unprofessionally. The federal court decision is clear that it only applies narrowly to the two plaintiffs and only in Washington County. Elected officials must be held accountable to the law and to the constitution they have sworn to uphold. Part of the reason for the recent landslide mid-term election was the utter disregard and insolence shown by President Obama for the rule of law which is now infecting so many other politicians across America. Respect for law must be restored or else legitimacy in government as an institution will diminish at an even greater rate. Ultimately, if these local officials continue in this same reckless pattern of behavior, they could easily face the same fate as so many other politicians did who are now retired as a result of the last election.”

Stemberger seems to be unaware that you file lawsuits in real courts with real judges, not in the court of public opinion. Or, for that matter, that supporting equality is likely to be a political advantage for these elected officials.

He also seems unaware that judges are very very busy people with tight schedules and they hate it when you waste their time with frivolous lawsuits.

But he may soon learn that.

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