Matlovich Arrest

He was first of all, a soldier, on the battlefield in Vietnam, and then in the battle for gay civil rights in America.

In the 1970’s, my friend Leonard Matlovich was perhaps the best-known openly gay man in America next to Harvey Milk.

His fight to stay in the United States Air Force after coming out of the closet became a cause ce?le?bre around which the gay community rallied. His case resulted in articles in newspapers and magazines throughout the country, numerous television inter- views, and a television movie on NBC. His photograph appeared on the cover of the September 8, 1975, issue of Time magazine, making him a symbol for thousands of gay and lesbian service members and the gay community in general.

I guess in South Florida it was a beach day.

But on Saturday, activists all over the country, including on the west coast of Florida, celebrated the inaugural Harvey Milk Day to increase support for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual individuals.The celebrations were run in tandem with the first Harvey Milk Day in California, a day of recognition for the slain gay rights activist and politician.

Cleve Jones, who was close friends with Milk in the 1970s, said the commemoration is long overdue.

“So many of Harvey’s friends and colleagues did not survive the ’80s and ’90s, so there was only a small group of us who worked very hard for a long time to keep his name alive. At times, it felt like a losing battle,” said Cleve Jones, who made the AIDS Quilt happen. “Now I feel really confident that Harvey’s name will be remembered.” Jones said.

Harvey Milk Day isn’t a formal state holiday, but it is a day of special significance to honor Milk’s contributions to the gay equality movement. Admittedly, his efforts and energies were in San Francisco, a far cry from South Florida. However, the message of Harvey Milk resounded nationally. Of course, it was captured on screen both in documentaries as well as in Hollywood by Sean Penn’s stunning depiction of Milk in the award-winning film.

His battles, of course, occurred in San Francisco just as Anita Bryant was squeezing our oranges here in South Florida. Both causes led to national debates.

Harvey Milk has become a gay American hero. His nephew, Stuart Milk, ontinues to champion his cause, and is often seen here in South Florida, as he has a home in Wilton Manors. Last year, when President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk, it was Stuart who went to the White House to accept it. That medal was then displayed here in Fort Lauderdale at the Stonewall Library.

We will not all win medals as Harvey Milk did posthumously. But we can all be about tolerance, equality and hope. Since this issue has a feature about pets, one thought that comes to mind is that we can all live our lives in such a way that we become the kinds of people our pets think we are. We can, as Abraham Lincoln once wrote, not only be proud of our community, but make our community proud of us.

A bullet from a madman took Harvey Milk from us prematurely, but we have learned again and again in American life that while a murderer’s gun may end a life, it cannot stop a legacy of remembrance.

Therefore, on this past Saturday, while you relaxed quietly on a beach, dined at a restaurant, or worked on catching up with your bills, remember that the freedoms we have won have come with a price. We have borne burdens and endured hardships to reach this day. Let’s not forget the memory of those who helped get us here.

Somehow, with a GLCC, a Dolphin Democratic Club, a host of candidates running for office, and a host of organizations hoisting their own petard, it is downright shameful, significantly embarrassing, and a bit humiliating that South Florida failed to recognize the Harvey Milk Day in any appreciable way. Even Sarasota did something. Next year, let’s do better.

George Rekers

There are few things more ironic than Anderson Cooper covering a story about some one else covering up his homosexuality. But last week he did.

AC 360 hosted a feature on CNN in which a young Miami man suggested he accompanied a nationally known anti-gay leader on a European vacation, providing pubic and personal services ‘down there.’

George Rekers, the person who rented the rent boy’s services, is claiming he just used him as a travel assistant, and no sex was involved. But today’s Miami New Times blog by Brandon Thorp and Penn Bullock, the young men who are the subject of our cover story, will blow that line out the window too."We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light."— Plato, (427 BC – 347)

That said, George Rekers is the same expert witness paid by the State of Florida with your tax dollars to testify at a trial held to defend the laws against gays adopting in this state. Nice, your money went to pay a guy to say you can’t raise boys. But he can rent them. This man is an unadulterated hypocrite.

Sheriff Al Lamberti

For years, homeless persons have been victims of violence in Florida and elsewhere. Last week, Governor Charlie Crist signed legislation which insures that anyone who targets the homeless for criminal acts will face enhanced penalties under Florida’s hate crimes law. There are not many things this newspaper would commend Charlie Crist for, but this is one of them.

The measure was conceived by Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti and sponsored by state Rep. Ari Porth, D-Coral Springs, chairman of the Broward Legislative Delegation.

Porth is a dedicated public servant who has used his tenure in the legislature to advance honorable causes. So too has the Sheriff backed a measure that would typically be outside the scope of the average law enforcement chief.

Lesbian Mothers

What is marriage? What is family? What is motherhood? What is parenting?

In Florida, which just finished another Are you a local lesbian mom? SFGN wants to feature you? Call Sebastian Fortino at 954-430-4970legislative session with not a single gay friendly bill passing, these are real issues to be sorted out. Gays are not equal here. Out of 50 states in the nation, eQuality Giving just ranked us as, oh, let’s see- 49th. Great!

We have taken our quest for equality to the streets, the courts, and state legislators. We should salute one group for making a difference, and forging ahead with new definitions of parenting.

The group we salute on Mother’s Day are the lesbian mothers, from celebrities who campaign for the right of gays and lesbians to adopt, to ordinary mothers fighting bigotry. They are not so much redefining motherhood as confirming what all mothers have known all along: that motherhood is about love and responsibility.