Waymon Hudson

New Coalition of LGBT Groups forms in Florida

Filed By Waymon Hudson | January 26, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Florida, gay rights, gender expression, gender identity, LGBT rights, Organizations United Together, OUT, politics, sexual orientation

Organizations United Together, or "OUT," a new federation of local LGBT and allied organizations held its first statewide meeting on January 24 in Orlando. According to the press statement, nearly 100 local leaders from across the state met to share information, network, and strategize together.

outLogosized.pngOUT's mission will be to connect and empower local organizations to share resources, skills and information in order to forge statewide strength in the pursuit of equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Floridians. OUT says they intend to work hand-in-hand with other state and national organizations that share similar goals.

Some of the goals they plan to pursue in the coming year are: helping defeat the charter amendment that would strip protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity from Gainesville's human rights ordinance, work to pass a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Florida Civil Rights Act, and the full repeal of the state's adoption ban.

Check out the full press release after the jump...

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 sessions.

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 everywhere'."

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; kdoering@rapidsys.com
Additional contacts:

PBCHRC - Rand Hoch - (561) 804-9399; flagler400@gmail.com

SOCR - Cathy James - (727) 424-5717; cathy_james@yahoo.com

SAVE Dade - C.J. Ortuno - (786) 351-0656; CJ@savedade.org

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submitted without comment?
Did you go?

I did not go. With Anthony's election right around the corner, we spend every weekend knocking on doors and meeting voters. Do you know anyone that went?


I attended the event and will blog on the experience.

If the organizing committee exercised genuine leadership and integrity OUT could be a great stregnth in this state.

Sadly, they refuse to talk about all the elephants in the room like Amendment 2 and why the organizing committee did not want Equalty Florida present along with myself and how they are planning to drive the LGBTQ legislative agenda and other activities such as endorsing of candidates.

It was a pathetic attempt to grab power and tear down existing partnerships to create jobs for a few who completely sold out.

The other thing missing, community leaders and activists are not considered a stakeholder given an independent person is not an organization. I argued the group needs to include community leaders.

Right before I had one of my classic Michael Rajner moments (like when I yelled at Naugle), Rand Hoch reminded had the nerve to say, "I hate to quote Ronald Reagan, but, I paid for this microphone."

This group's agenda was preset and has no intention to be inclusive. The leadership are activists who are disgruntled with Equality Florida and other state groups and are trying to make names for themself. How dare Rand Hoch think civil rights and the effort to broaden protections is his and only his to engage and dictate the strategy. Rand is the same person who did exactly what HRC did to the transgender community when ENDA came before Congress.

A coalition in the State of Florida is so desperately needed for our community, just not a coalition led by divisive and underhanded leadership.