News From Florida
Together, a new federation of local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT)
and allied local organizations held its first meeting on Saturday, January 24,
2009, in Orlando, Florida. Nearly 100 local leaders from across the state met
to share information, network, and strategize together.
Share on Facebook
January 25, 2009
Orlando – An unprecedented number of leaders of local LGBT and allied
organizations met in Orlando, Florida Saturday from every corner of the state in
an all day session. The meeting was convened by a statewide federation of local
organizations created last month: Organizations United Together ("OUT"). "OUT's
first meeting was an unqualified success," declared OUT spokesperson Karen
Doering. "The energy, enthusiasm, and excitement about the possibilities of
what we can achieve together was inspiring."
The morning portion of the meeting included a networking session where each
region of the state networked with other groups from their own region and
discussed their local priorities. In the afternoon, participants broke up by
interest area, so that political, educational and community-focused groups could
network with similar groups and work together to explore how OUT can best assist
them in enhancing communication, sharing resources and developing coordinated
strategies for the future.
Several statewide projects emerged as priorities from the daylong strategy
The education-focused groups at the meeting suggested developing a speakers
bureau, as well as ways in which the LGBT community can participate in community
engagement programs which will garner support from the wider community," said
Orlando Gonzales organizing committee member.
Community-focused groups were excited about the possibilities of working with
and learning from each other. "I'm already seeing the benefit of OUT," said
Shirley Herman, with North Palm Beach County chapter of Florida National
Organization for Women. "I made three really important connections with other
groups in my community that I didn't even know existed prior to today."
The political organizations at the meeting described the work they were doing in
their local communities and began exploring ways in which they could work
together to achieve their common goals. At the end of the meeting, several
local groups gave presentations on current projects they were working on to
demonstrate the interconnectedness of the work local groups are doing across the
state. Equality is Gainesville's Business, a local organization developed to
fight a charter amendment that would strip protections based on sexual
orientation and gender identity from Gainesville's human rights ordinance and
prohibit the City from protecting any category of person not protected by state
law, gave a powerful presentation that was very well received. "We are grateful
for any help we can get from other groups across Florida," said Terry Fleming, a
representative of Equality is Gainesville's Business. SAVE Dade Executive
Director C.J. Ortuno said that "SAVE Dade, like other groups around the state,
has decided to do its part to help Gainesville defeat this discriminatory
measure. As Dr. King said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice
Palm Beach County Human Rights Council discussed a statewide bill it has
championed in the Florida legislature for the last two years that would add
sexual orientation and gender identity to the Florida Civil Rights Act. "Our
efforts will be strengthened by having local groups in each part of the state
supporting these and other LGBT equality bills," said Rand Hoch, President of
Palm Beach County Human Rights Council. "Legislators are more likely to listen
to their own constituents."
Cathy James of Tampa Bay Family Pride gave a presentation on legislation that
has been introduced in both houses of the Florida legislature – for the first
time in 32 years - to fully repeal Florida's ban on gay adoption. "It's
great to see our community working together like never before," said James.
"I'm excited by the possibilities OUT brings to enhance these connections."
Tampa Bay Family Pride and other local parenting groups have been working with
Securing Our Children's Rights (SOCR), a statewide organization founded to
repeal Florida's adoption ban, to support the legislation.
Meeting participants included openly gay elected officials, including the mayors
of North Miami and Wilton Manors. Orlando city commissioner Patty Sheehan gave
the opening welcome to the assembly. Close to 100 people, representing local
organizations from more than half of the counties in Florida, participated. The
diverse groups included political, educational, social, religious, HIV/AIDS and
community service organizations from across the state.
OUT plans to work with other state and national groups in advancing full
equality and justice for LGBT Floridians.
"We are just getting started" said Lisa Livezey Comingore. "Our task now is to
build a strong and permanent network of local groups so this cooperation
continues year round, resulting in a stronger, more united community." OUT
plans to convene a meeting next month with other state and national LGBT and
allied organizations working in Florida to achieve similar objectives. OUT will
hold another statewide meeting this summer.
Media contact: Karen Doering, Esq. – (727) 642-6580;
PBCHRC – Rand Hoch – (561) 804-9399;
SOCR – Cathy James – (727) 424-5717;
SAVE Dade - C.J. Ortuno – (786) 351-0656;
Organizations United Together, Inc. (OUT) is a federation of local
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied organizations dedicated to
achieving equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
Floridians. By connecting and empowering local organizations throughout the
state to share resources, skills and knowledge, OUT aims to forge our statewide
strength to achieve common goals.
Contribute to G/L Issues
to help with our expenses