Ashburn Comes Out

A well known anti-gay California state lawmaker, arrested last week for driving drunk, and stopped by police with a man in the car that he had just picked up in a gay bar, came out of the closet to a radio station last week.

On Monday, March 8, Roy Ashburn told a local radio host “I am gay.”

Ashburn had made a name for himself in California state politics as an unblinking opponent of gay and lesbian civil rights.

The divorced father of four is among those conservative Republican lawmakers with a perfect or near-perfect record of opposing gay rights proposals in his state legislature, including bills to establish same-sex marriage, banning discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity, and to toughen anti-harassment protections for LGBT youths in California’s public schools.

Joel Slotnick is usually smiling. Whether he is snapping on a VIP bracelet Sunday night at the Sea Monster or reconciling a balance sheet for the 501 (c) 3 for which he serves as Treasurer, there is the clear look upon his face of a man who enjoys his work.

Joel Slotnick’s duties as Treasurer of Pride South Florida this year have tempered that smile with caution. He has been placed in the role of ‘bean-counter’ knowing that his predecessor, Mike Cruz, a long time close friend, may soon be arrested for stealing close to $50,000 of last year’s Pridefest funds. Cruz, as reported in SFGN two weeks ago, is the target of a Fort Lauderdale Police Economic Crimes Division investigation.

The alleged theft has made Slotnick more determined today to “give back. You have to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

“I first became active in Pride South Florida in the early ’90s,” he recalls. “[The late] Lee McCall and his partner David Newell got me involved. I was the Treasurer for the first time back in 1992.”

Jim Rakvica

According to a local insurance executive, a three year old study warning that nearly one in four gay and lesbian adults lack health insurance has become even more serious a problem today, with the nationwide economic downturn. The 2007 survey of more than 2,700 American adults age 18 and over found that 22% of gay and lesbian respondents report having no health coverage, compared with around 12% of straights who were asked.

Jim Rakvica of Correct Coverage Insurance in Fort Lauderdale states that “Those numbers are more than two years old, and for most people the economy is worse. You can extrapolate that the uninsured’s numbers are quite a bit higher due to our high unemployment and poor economy,” he says.

Rene Endara

Statistics show that one in three American kids is obese or overweight. These numbers were part of the inspiration last month for First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity.

During remarks on March 1, the First Lady said that Americans must “move to rally this country around a single, ambitious goal—and that is to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation so that kids born today reach adulthood at a healthy weight.”

In announcing the initiative, Obama stated that a healthy lifestyle, including achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, doesn’t require major life alterations, but rather “small changes that add up.”

The Washington Post

John Perez

California lawmakers installed their first openly gay Assembly Speaker on Monday, March 1.

Accompanied by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles singing Broadway show tunes, John Perez, a first generation Mexican Amer­ican, was sworn in to the leadership role in the California legislature.

The 40 year old Los Angeles Democrat and former labor activist is the cousin of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Perez must try to preserve what he can of California’s health and welfare services while reducing a nearly $20-billion budget deficit.

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