Letter2 to the Editor, July 2, 2014

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An Open Letter to Attorney General Bondi:

Thank you for caring enough to get involved in Florida's marriage equality issue.  As a resident of Oakland Park, Florida, I think you should be as well-informed as possible as you engage in something that has such a direct and profound effect on the lives of so many of your fellow citizens and their families, friends, and communities.

To that end, I and my husband of nearly seven years, Brian Steele, will travel from Oakland Park to the Keys on July 6, in time to witness the court case on July 7 (Huntsman & Jones vs. Heavilin.)

I'm sure you will be very busy and on a tight schedule; however as an elected State official, I'm equally certain you wouldn't want to enter a courtroom without a full understanding of the case at hand.

Brian and I are happy to make ourselves available to you for a brief, respectful, reasoned discussion to offer you the opportunity to meet and get to know a real live "average" gay married couple.  Please feel free to ask any questions you may have, and/or let us clarify any of the rumors you may have heard.

I can't stress enough the importance of this case, especially as it relates to the fundamental issues of equality and fairness in the State of Florida and across the United States.

We are smart, well-spoken, serious men in our early 40's — homeowners, small-business owners, Christians, active in our community.  Brian comes from a family of local [Republican] politicians, all of whom wholeheartedly support our marriage.

When I first told my mother of my engagement to Brian, she sincerely asked why.  I explained it to her, and she instantly "got it." The reasons just hadn't occurred to her before our discussion. I believe you deserve the same opportunity to "get it" before doing measurable damage to so many couples and families across our beautiful state.

Please contact us at your earliest convenience to schedule a meeting.  We will clear our schedule for you.


Anthony R. Cicalese and Brian J. Steele, Oakland Park

Jury Duty:

I have been called to jury duty in Broward County Florida on Monday, June 30, 2014. It occurs to me that my serving on any jury in this state may actually constitute a violation of the defendant’s federal secured rights to a trial by a jury of their peers.

The definition of the word peer is as follows: 1. a person of the same legal status: a jury of one's peers. Yet I, as a gay man, am defined by the state of Florida as inherently not being of equal legal status to heterosexuals by being denied the right to marry.   

If Florida wishes me to serve on a jury of peers, then must they not provide me with the same legal status as the rest of the jury in order to meet that qualification? Could not a defense attorney contest a verdict against his client based on the fact that, as all of the members of the jury was not peers, it was a mistrial?

I would gladly serve jury duty in one of the nineteen states, which recognize same sex unions. Unfortunately, Florida is not one of them.  I fiercely admire the journey endured by so many people, prior to 1967, when interracial marriage was legalized in the U.S. by the Supreme Court, and long for the day when the same thing may occur for same sex marriages.

It should be noted that as Florida was one of the hold out states when it came to interracial marriage, that it’s likely that only another Supreme Court ruling will change this state’s laws on same sex marriage. 

Until then I approach my impending jury duty with not a sense of pride, but a sense of disillusionment in the state in which I live.

John Lariviere

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