On January 22, 2010 a lawsuit was filed against the City of Fort Lauderdale on behalf of a man who was arrested and subsequently acquitted on charges he solicited an undercover officer for prostitution.

Attorney Russell Cormican, representing Michael Marsh of Fort Lauderdale, said undercover police went way beyond the pale when they arrested his client in the city’s Holiday Park on August 20, 2007.

On that date, Marsh said he was approached by an officer and induced to expose himself to the undercover cop. Marsh says the officer solicited him for money in exchange for sex, but that he told the officer he was looking for a date and did not want to pay for intimate contact.

At the time, a Motion to Dismiss was filed by Marsh’s attorneys, based on unlawful entrapment. In July 2008, Broward County Judge Gary Cowart ruled that all charges against Marsh should be dismissed.

In a five-page ruling, Cowart wrote: “This court finds that the defendant was entrapped as a matter of law.” Cowart said that Marsh “had no money and was only interested in a mutual date,” and that Marsh “proved that he was induced by Officer Coffin to commit these acts.”

Holiday Park and its environs had been under heavy Fort Lauderdale Police surveillance resulting from then-Mayor Jim Naugle’s crusade against alleged cruising and sex acts committed by gay men in the park and its restrooms. Police reports released at the time did not bear out Naugle’s claims.

Bruce Roberts, who was Fort Lauderdale’s police chief during the peak of Naugle’s anti-gay campaign and is now a Fort Lauderdale city commissioner, later said, “I don’t think it was as serious a situation as portended.”

After finding that it was police officers who had engaged in “inappropriate conduct” – and not Marsh – Cowart dismissed the charges. His ruling paved the way for Cormican’s lawsuit against the city.

Cormican say that his client “never should have gone to jail. No crime had ever been committed. The officers improperly targeted him, made a mistake arresting him, and now the city should pay for it. The attorney says he and Marsh attempted to resolve matters with city insurance adjustors for the past six months, but was offered only “a nominal amount” by the city.

“This embarrassed my client and was uncalled for. He is entitled to reasonable compensation,” Cormican said.

A complete story on the suit and the aftermath of Marsh’s ordeal can be found in the January 25, 2010 issue of South Florida Gay News, and can be read online.

In addition, in its inaugural issue on Monday, January 25, 2010, South Florida Gay News broke the story nationally of Hollywood, Florida police officer Mike Verduga’s dismissal from his department for being gay.

The groundbreaking story was picked up a day later, on January 26, 2010, by the Miami Herald, and then on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 by Advocate.com, Qweerty.com, and other national and international GLBT media sources.

The story can be read online.

For further information contact Cliff Dunn, South Florida Gay News.com, 954.530.4970

 

From President Obama's speech at tonight's State of The Union Address:

"Abroad, America's greatest source of strength has always been our ideals.  The same is true at home.  We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution:  the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else."

"We must continually renew this promise.  My Administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination.  We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate.  This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are."

 

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The Palace

UPDATE:  January 28, 2010 8:20PM

A message from Ivan the General Manager from Palace:"I would like to thank the community for their thoughts, good wishes and comments. You are not alone! Yesterday, I had the honor of meeting Mayor Matti Bower, and some Miami Beach City Officials, to discuss the issue at hand. As always, her heart goes out to the gay community and we have her full support in this matter. The City of Miami Beach is aware of the situation, and together, we are working on a resolution.

Following almost three years of litigation for a class-action suit brought by gays and lesbians, the popular online dating site eHarmony.com agreed January 26th to pay $500,000 and become more receptive to same-sex seekers of their perfect mates.

The suit was brought when bisexuals accused the company of double-billing them for access to both sites. Bi individuals will now have access to both sites for a single fee.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A San Francisco man has received the maximum prison term for the sexual assault on a woman authorities describe as a transgender prostitute.

A judge sentenced Donzell Francis to 17 years and eight months Monday after jurors found him guilty in December of forcible sexual assault, robbery and other charges for the 2007 attack in the city's Tenderloin district.

In sentencing the 41-year-old Francis to the maximum term, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Donald Mitchell cited his ``complete lack of remorse'' for the attack.

Police say DNA evidence has linked Francis to the rape and strangulation of another transgender prostitute in 2007, though no charges have been filed.

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is expected to talk about the "Don't ask, don't tell" rule that bars openly gay Americans from serving in the military during his State of the Union address this week, a senior lawmaker said on Monday.

During his 2008 campaign for the presidency, Obama vowed to end the rule discriminating against gays and he renewed that pledge in a speech last year.

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