UMASS Player Makes Hoops History: Derrick Gordon, a shooting guard on the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball team, made history last week by being the first openly gay player in a NCAA Division I men’s basketball game. Gordon, 22, from Plainfield, N.J., scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Minutemen’s 95-87 win over Siena.
Judge Tosses Charlotte’s Web Regulations: An administrative judge tossed out the Florida Department of Health’s proposed regulations for the cannabis oil known as “Charlotte’s Web,” sending the state back to the drawing board. Rewriting regulations for growing and distributing the cannabis oil is expected to push back market rollout for months. Parents of children suffering from epilepsy said they were considering moving to Colorado where cannabis is legal.
Equality Florida Honors Transgender Teen
Jazz Jennings, a 14-year-old transgender activist, spoke eloquently about her journey before a crowd of more than 500 people at the 12th Annual Equality Florida Gala Sunday evening in Fort Lauderdale. Jennings received the civil rights organization’s Voice for Equality award for her role in bringing awareness to transgender life.
“She has a girl’s brain in a boy’s body,” said Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s Transgender Inclusion Director.
Duncan introduced Jennings at the Gala, stating “few people in the transgender community have articulated their true gender feelings with more clarity and passion than Jazz Jennings.”
Jennings, who calls South Florida home, was recently named one of the “25 Most Influential Teens of 2014” by Time Magazine. She has been featured by 20/20, 60 Minutes and the Oprah Winfrey Show and is currently promoting a 32-page book about her transition, titled “I Am Jazz.”
“I wrote this book to tell people it’s okay to be different,” Jennings said.
Sunday’s Gala raised more than $400,000 for Equality Florida, which was good news to Deputy Director Stratton Pollitzer, who reminded attendees that the battle for equal rights is far from over.
Sarkozy Campaigns to Repeal Same-Sex Marriage in France
Nicolas Sarkozy, in a campaign to get his old job back, said he would repeal same-sex marriage laws in France if he were to be elected President again.
Sarkozy was pressed on the issue during a debate Saturday in Paris for leadership of France’s conservative UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) party. Sarkozy, 59, indicated he would repeal Socialist legislation allowing same-sex marriage and adoption, stating the new law should be written, “from the ground up.”
Sarkozy’s comments are surprising considering the politician’s marriage to super model and pop singer Carla Bruni, a strong supporter of gay rights. Bruni is the third wife of Sarkozy, who served as President of France from 2007 to 2012.
A Russian court has reduced the prison sentence for Maxim Martsinkevich (Макси́м Сергее́вич Марцинке́вич) the notorious gang leader who hunts gay men for torture and humiliation. European news agencies are reporting Martsinkevich, who goes by the alias Tesak or Machete, has less than three years remaining on his sentence in a Russian labor camp. Martsinkevich was arrested in Cuba in January for inciting ethnic and religious hatred during a race riot. The 30-year-old skinhead, who once interrupted a Moscow political debate by shouting “Kill the Liberals!” has a well documented record of capturing gay men using social networks and videotaping their humiliation.
U.S. District Judge Richard Mark Gergel struck down South Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage last week, in accordance with the precedent set by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. In his decision, Gergel writes the ban violates the equal protection and due process clauses under the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision includes a one-week stay, pending appeal. If the stay is not extended, or the defendants do not seek a stay from a higher court, marriages will begin in South Carolina on November 20. South Carolina legislators banned same-sex marriage in 1996 and voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state’s constitution in 2006 by a 78-22 percent margin.
In the aftermath of the midterm election, analysts are still trying to figure out what happened to Amendment 2. The proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Florida fell just shy of the 60 percent approval needed by voters. Some have linked the “Yes on 2” campaign to losses suffered by Democrats statewide. “I don’t know yet,” said Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee. “I do know more people voted for medical marijuana than for our governor (Rick Scott). Amendment 2 received 3.3 million yes votes (58 percent), while Scott received 2.8 million (48 percent.)
Wilton Manors, Miami Beach, St. Petersburg and Orlando received perfect scores (100) on the Municipal Equality Index (MEI), a nationwide evaluation of 353 cities on how inclusive the city’s laws and policies are for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The index is conducted by the Equality Federation Institute and Human Rights Campaign Foundation and evaluates cities on the following criteria: non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, municipality as employer, services and programs and relationship with LGBT community. Other South Florida cities and their scores: Oakland Park (87), Fort Lauderdale (76), Miami Shores (61), Hollywood (61), Miami (53), Pembroke Pines (51), Hialeah (49) and Cape Coral (22).