Friday, March 6, 2009

Rallying for Change in Florida

PFLAG chapters in Tallahassee and Panama City, Florida, are rallying for equality in two separate events -- the Rally in Tally on Monday, March 16th at the Old State Capitol in Tallahassee, and the Our Time Has Come rally at the Pier Park Amphitheater in Panama City Beach on Saturday, May 16th.

PFLAG Tallahassee chapter representative Susan Gage got involved in organizing the Rally in Tally after being inspired by the turnout for Florida's Join the Impact rally on November 4th in response to the passage of Florida's Amendment 2 by 62.1 percent and California's Proposition 8 by 52.3 percent. Both were anti-marriage equality ballot initiatives; California's differed from Florida's in that it was designed to roll back marriage equality rights that were already the law of the land.

"The time for change is now," says Gage, who is the daughter of longtime PFLAG mom, national board member and regional director Peg Gage. "Today in Florida, it is still legal to discriminate against someone because they are gay."

Gage, who for years was a Florida Public Radio reporter covering the state Legislature, is intimately familiar with the state's politics. She says one of the messages of the rally is that there are 31 state representatives and senators who have agreed to be sponsors of four bills in the current legislative session aimed at bringing equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens of Florida.

The four bills would end the anti-gay adoption ban, create statewide domestic partnership benefits, add the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the state’s existing civil rights laws, and introduce the “Florida Healthy Teens Act” -- an act designed to bring honest sex education into Florida's schools.

"These members have already raised the ire of anti-gay lobbying groups in the state and put their political lives on the line for the likes of me," Gage says. "And not only are we thankful, we are planning to show up and stand up for ourselves."

The Our Time Has Come rally on May 16th in Panama City Beach is"a fun event designed to bring solidarity and support between all LGBT equality groups," says rally co-chair and PFLAG Panama City member Michael Greene, who designed the rally website.

"In the wake of last year's election, with the passage of Amendment 2 in Florida and Proposition 8 in California, equality for all Americans has been placed in Jeopardy," says rally co-chair and PFLAG Panama City member Erica Kay. "The only way to correct these injustices is to stand up and let our voices be heard as one. If we put a face on the issues, we will have successfully identified that your LGBT neighbor or family member is no different than you.".

Rally in Tally
Monday, March 16th at Noon
Old State Capitol
Tallahassee, FL
For more information:

Our Time Has Come Rally
Saturday, May 16th from 11am-5pm
Pier Park Amphitheater
Panama City Beach, FL
For more information: Click here.

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