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Florida Begins Offering Same-Sex Spousal Benefits: 

The State of Florida will now recognize same-sex relationships in its benefit packages. With the advent of same-sex marriage in the Sunshine State, the government is directing its employees to consider enrolling in a family plan. Suzetta Furlong, operations chief for Florida’s Department of Management Services, said state employees with a qualifying status change have until March 6, 2015 to enroll their spouses in state coverage for health insurance and retirement plans.

Actor Dedicates Golden Globe to Transgender Community: 

Actor Jeffrey Tambor accepted the Golden Globe for best actor in a TV series Sunday night for his role in the acclaimed series “Transparent.” In his acceptance speech, Tambor said, “Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your inspiration. Thank you for your patience. And thank you for letting us be part of your change.” Tambor, known to many for his role as a corrupt family patriarch in “Arrested Development” takes on a different portrayal in “Transparent,” playing a MTF Transgender in the new Amazon series.

Gay Couples Account for 13% of Paris Marriages

Early data released by France’s INSEE national statistics office shows more than 13 percent of all marriages recorded in the French capital were same-sex. The office reported 1,331 same-sex weddings were performed in Paris in 2014, the vast majority of which were in districts (arrondissements) with Socialist mayors. The fourth district of Paris, home to the Marais district, recorded the most gay nuptials. “Our civilization did not crumble despite the alarmist predictions,” French politician Jean-Luc Romero said. The INSEE is expected to release a full report on the state of same-sex marriage in France this week. France legalized same-sex marriage in May of 2013.

Effort Launched to Repeal Defense of Marriage Act

As the 114th U.S. Congress gaveled into session, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced a bill intended to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. “The Supreme Court has ruled that section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, but Congress still must repeal the law in its entirety,” said Nadler. However, gay rights activists scoffed at what they viewed as a largely ceremonial move. “Now that the Democrats are a minority in both houses they are finally eager to put up the gay rights bills knowing they won’t pass,” writes Will Kohler, a blogger for the website

Medical Marijuana Initiative Returns

Advocates for reforming Florida’s marijuana laws submitted an amendment to the state’s constitution calling for access to cannabis for medicinal use. The organization, People United for Medical Marijuana, offered its proposed amendment to Florida’s Secretary of State’s office last week and is launching a signature drive to get the amendment on the 2016 ballot. Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan is again financing the petition effort, telling the Miami Herald, “I’ve been through it once. I know how to do this. We made a lot of mistakes and we won’t make them this time.” Morgan’s group needs 683,149 voter signatures to get on the ballot.

Gay Rep Announces Senate Candidacy

Florida Rep. David Richardson (D-Miami Beach) has announced plans to run for State Senate in 2016. Richardson, 57, is seeking to take the district 35 seat held by Sen. Gwen Margolis, who is hinting at retiring from public service. Margolis is 80. Richardson, a certified public accountant, was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2012 and re-elected last year. He is currently the only openly gay legislator in Tallahassee. In a statement, announcing his senate candidacy, Richardson says he will serve as the Democratic Party’s Floor Leader in the House during the 2015 session.

West Palm Beach a Top Queer City

The Advocate released its “Queerest Cities in America” list for 2015 and holding the third position is West Palm Beach. The magazine’s website says this of the Palm Beach County city:

“West Palm Beach has a trans-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. Residents and visitors take advantage of the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, home of the Miami City Ballet, the Palm Beach Opera, and touring Broadway shows like ‘The Book of Mormon.’ Denizens come together at trendy restaurants, such as the gay-couple-owned Table 26 and sing karaoke on Sundays at neighborhood spot Rooster’s.”

Surprisingly, Wilton Manors, Provincetown and San Francisco were no where to be found on the Advocate’s queer list. With a population of 102,436, West Palm Beach is rising in the eyes of trendsetters, writes the Advocate’s editors, noting interior designer Jonathan Adler and his partner Simon Doonan now call the city home.

Other Florida cities included in the Advocate’s list of 25 Queerest Cities in America were Gainesville (22) and Orlando (23). Dayton, Ohio took the top spot as the Queerest City in America.