Florida’s LGBT Democrats are cranking up the volume in Miami this weekend.
The Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus holds its summer conference — themed "Let's Get Loud" — Aug. 6-8 at the Hilton Miami Downtown. The conference features panel discussions, awards presentations, strategy sessions and speeches from elected officials and candidates.
“We need to get our community organized and energized going into the 2022 election cycle,” said Caucus President Stephen Gaskill. “We are under fire in Tallahassee. We are going to be under fire by congressional candidates and certainly by Marco Rubio. This conference is drawing attention to specific issues that are on the agenda for the coming year and also allowing us to hear from elected officials who are actually doing the work and working for us.”
Leading off the lineup is Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, the conference’s keynote speaker. Levine Cava, Miami-Dade’s first-ever woman mayor, is scheduled to deliver remarks to the caucus Saturday in a noon luncheon.
Gaskill said walk-ins are welcome or people can attend virtually for a $35 registration fee. The hotel, Gaskill said, never relaxed coronavirus protocols so if you are attending in-person bring your mask and observe safe physical distancing.
“We’re doing temperature checks before every event,” Gaskill said. “And, of course, we’re all Democrats, so we’re all vaccinated because we believe in science.”
Recruiting more caucus members remains a priority. Gaskill has delegated outreach efforts to North Miami Councilman Scott Galvin, one of the longest-serving openly gay elected officials in Florida history. Galvin said he'd like to see more involvement from the L in LGBT.
“There are no lesbian-elected legislators in Dade County,” Galvin said. “You can find a couple of judges, but judges have a different set of circumstances. They are not allowed to weigh in on issues. At a candidates forum they can say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to comment on that.’ … so they got it easier than the legislators. There are no lesbians, no trans, it’s only five or six gay white or Hispanic males.”
Galvin said a strong effort is needed in Miami-Dade County to train and urge the next generation of LGBT candidates to seek public office.
“I hear people say, ‘he’s going to run for office one day,’ well I’m like damn that day needs to be tomorrow, what are you waiting for?” Galvin said.
The conference’s main event figures to be Saturday evening’s cocktail reception as the leading candidates for governor are expected to face off. U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist (FL-13) and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried are seeking the party’s nomination to challenge sitting Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Charlie and Nikki don’t appear together very much anymore,” Gaskill quipped. “We’ve got them in the same room, at the same time in the same place so that’s something to see.”
The cocktail reception is a separate event requiring a $150 ticket to enter. At the reception, the caucus will bestow its 2021 legislative leadership award to Florida Senator Shevrin Jones and a lifetime leadership award to Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis.