Connie and Ruthie chosen as grand marshals
They sued and won for domestic partnership benefits, they expanded an LGBT organization, they founded a counseling center — and now, they are this year’s grand marshals of this weekend’s PrideFest in Lake Worth.
The event, PrideFest of Lake Worth and The Palm Beaches, takes place March 19 and 20 from noon to 6 p.m. at Bryant Park, Lake Avenue and Golfview in downtown Lake Worth.
Selected by the Compass Gay and Lesbian Community Center board and staff members are Ruthie Berman and Connie Kurtz, longstanding LGBT rights activists. The women will ride in Sunday’s parade on the Wells Fargo Stage Coach, the parade sponsor. Flanking the coach will be the Rusty Gordon GBLT Democratic Caucus. The parade starts at 11:30 a.m. on Lake Avenue in downtown Lake Worth.
In 1988, Berman was a teacher at a high school in Brooklyn. She and her partner sued the New York City Board of Education in order to receive domestic partner benefits. Six years later in 1994, they won the case. Since then, the couple has maintained their position as LGBT advocates.
Later, they expanded Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays, the largest LGBT and ally organization in the United States, by creating more branches in Florida and New York. In 2000, they became co-chairs of the New York State National Organization for Women (NOW) Lesbian Rights Task Force. Berman and Kurtz founded and spent 20 years working within The Answer is Loving Counseling Center. Their official marriage was on July 26, 2011 in New York.
In October of last year came The Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act which expanded the Older Americans Act. Enacted in 1965, the OAA sought to improve services for senior citizens. The Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act of 2015 built upon this by applying more services to LGBT adults over the age of 18.
“Discrimination in housing, employment, and healthcare has made many LGBT older adults subject to an increased risk for social isolation and higher poverty rates,” reads the Human Rights Campaign website in recognition of the 2015 act. ”This legislation recognizes LGBT seniors as a vulnerable population, which will open the door for organizations to obtain grants targeted to improve health and long-term care services for elders in the LGBT community.“
Visit CompassGLCC.com for more information. Tickets to the festival are $8 in advance, $10 at the event.
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