Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Will they or won't they?: Following this morning's "discussion" on marriage equality at the County Commission

Posted on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 9:02 AM

You may have read in the Orlando Sentinel this weekend that Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs – who made an appearance at Come Out with Pride for the second year in a row on Saturday – would be confronted once again with the idea that her and the Orange County Board of County Commissioners sign on to the famed "amicus brief" like other mayors (including Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer) have joined. That brief simply states that Florida mayors stand in solidarity in supporting marriage equality for both economic reasons and considerations of fairness. A couple of quick developments: One of Jacobs' main gay confidantes, Randy Ross, stuck a big foot in his mouth last week, attacking Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell, who will be introducing the brief. Also, Sentinel scribe George Diaz wrote a pretty moving piece on Sunday about couple Liz Molina and Joan Rodriguez, the former of which is near death, as a means of illustrating the importance of marriage rights, especially in dire circumstances. This writer knows this issue all too well, but knows he isn't alone. Also, Attorney General Pam Bondi has asked that marriage equality cases in Florida now be heard by the Florida Supreme Court, which is a bit of a change in direction. We'll be liveblogging today's meeting – at least the part that pertains to this issue – starting at 9 a.m. (WE HAVEN'T GOT ALL DAY!). Come along, won't you. There's a chance this could pass, based on noise we're hearing on the front end, give or take one commissioner.

9:09 a.m.: "We have a full house joining us this morning," Jacobs says. "Refrain from applause, as difficult as that is at times." OK.

9:11 a.m.: And now we pray. About Jesus: "You are incredibly smart."

9:13 a.m.: PLEDGE!

9:16 a.m.: IT'S COMMUNITY ACTION MONTH! Which seems weird when you consider that Jacobs has been a bit off-key on "action" in the community.

9:20 a.m.: We're still talking about community action, which is great. But we have a stopwatch running on how long Jacobs keeps a pregnant woman with a dying spouse waiting to tell her story to the board. Joan Rodriguez is here, and she has apparently already met with the mayor, at least in passing. The mayor can switch things around here, or she can run out the clock til the afternoon. If that happens, expect the shame of the century.

9:23 a.m.: Tiffany Moore Russell has served all of her eight years working for Community Action. Just so you know.

9:24 a.m.: There was just some weird exchange about commissioners not wearing pants, oh and the mayor. Actually, they are wearing red and white socks for the Ronald McDonald House.

9:26 a.m.: Commissioner TEDWARDS just got engaged. "I think the congratulations goes to my fiance as well," he says. "Might be very short lived," Jacobs giggles.

9:27 a.m.: Can we just discuss that we're talking and laughing about TEDWARDS marriage while a pregnant woman is biting her nails as her partner is at home deathly ill?

9:37 a.m.: 10 minutes of congratulating volunteer kids groups. Sigh. Now on to the Ronald McDonald House, of which there will be at third one in Lake Nona. Jacobs appears to have wiped tears from her eyes just now. Lots of laughing about red and white socks.


9:42 a.m.: Everyone is getting two minutes. Fortunately, Joan Rodriguez is in the first group, something Teresa is taking credit for.

9:43 a.m.: Kathryn Norsworthy from Rollins is kicking things off. First, she's going after AG Bondi for not recognizing her marriage. Also, she's a psychologist, so, she says, when electeds discriminate, it eats away at people. Some of the board has shown "personal support" for marriage equality. But systemic is better. I mean, we have a Human Rights Ordinance and a Domestic Partnership Registry, both of which seem to be protecting families. Why wouldn't we sign an amicus brief? Five of six constitutional officers are signing the brief. Amicus briefs do make a difference, she says. In Miami, a judge cited this amicus brief as evidence. "The time is now... Stand up for love and equality and sign on for the amicus brief."

9:47 a.m.: A woman talking about transportation corridors, etc. NEXT.

9:51 a.m.: There's a big "NoBuild.org" contingency here. Eagle Creek people are mad at the fact that they are not getting "protections" from highway expansion.

9:56 a.m.: Developer says that these expansion issues are "way above" his head. Ugh. Looks like Joan is next.

9:59 a.m.: Joan (Joanne?) Rodriguez is retelling her 13 year history with her partner. I'm crying. "I don't take those words lightly, because my partner is dying." She's 34 weeks pregnant, wife endured 4 months of no healthcare because of Medicaid glitch. "She lost her hope." In July, she was given two to six months to live. I just can't. How can you, Mayor Jacobs?


10:04 a.m.: More transportation talk, but the following speakers are big LGBT powerhouses.

10:07 a.m.: Another Rollins professor, this one bringing letters from staff and faculty - 65 faculty members - urging a vote for LGBT citizens. Barry, FAMU, Stonewall LGBT Organization, basically everyone including students, has signed on for this. Will you Teresa? "It's not enough to be tolerant... or showing up at opportune moments to stand up for the LGBT community." Um, like the Pride parade. AND THIS WOMAN IS STRAIGHT.

10:10 a.m.: Gina Duncan is thanking Martha Haynie for her Sentinel My Word column, and commending Tiffany Moore Russell for support and "growing a family." HA. Now that we're in the FL Supreme Court, "amicus briefs do matter." Commissioner Boyd is directly addressed. Duncan is now talking about her gay daughter. "While I congratulate Commissioner Edwards on his engagement, my daughter is also engaged. I found out this weekend that they're expecting." Amen.

10:13 a.m.: Mary Meeks: "This will be decided by the Florida courts." The briefs are due now. "Your citizens need your help." "Orange County is COMPELLED to discriminate" against gay people. "Adding your voice to this fight would have a huge impact." She's quoting commissioners, like Clarke, who did the whole "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Also, just so you know, there are amicus briefs being filed by anti-gay forces that are pretty hateful. Silence is not golden here.

10:17 a.m.: DEC chair Carlos Smith is up now and is lauding Tiffany Moore Russell, Dyer and the City of Orlando and the five out of six constitutional officers who have signed the brief. "Full disclosure, I have a biased opinion, because I am an openly gay person." This whole idea that the board doesn't have the power to make marriage equality the "law of the land," you do have "a very powerful and very weighted voice." This is the civil rights issue of our time. This board has an opportunity to make its LGBT constituents to feel validated. Smith just called out the Jacobs Watermark interview, also the possibility of a "partisan race." It's now a bipartisan issues. "I would love for this Republican controlled board to prove me wrong" about my feelings about Republicans.

10:20 a.m.: Vicki Nantz is speaking for a friend who has a partner with chronic illness and couldn't make it. "The courts weigh" the views of public bodies like this one. "Ted Edwards, I celebrate your engagement, too. I think that's what all the rest of us are looking for in our relationships, too." Oooooh.

10:22 a.m.: State Rep. Joe Saunders sent a surrogate and a statement repeating everything we know about fairness and the economy.

10:23 a.m.: Former Center leader Randy Stephens is up now talking about the 30 states that have adopted marriage equality, 60 percent of the citizens of the U.S. He's pointing out the millions of dollars we're losing because of the absence of marriage equality. WHAT ABOUT THE HONEYMOONS OR DESTINATION WEDDINGS? Vegas is already putting ads out, and we compete with Vegas. Stephens got married in D.C. in May; met four other Florida couples who did the same thing. He grew up in Alabama and watched people stand idly by; we know now how those people look. Boom.

10:27 a.m.: CRAZYHATEFULPERSONS THE NORRIS TWINS ARE HERE, JUST LIKE THEY ALWAYS ARE. "Natural law" implanted in us by the "creator of this universe." HA, EMOTION INSTEAD OF TRUTH? WHO'S LIVING BY THE BIBLE? God, this guy. "To pass this brief is to say that we are on the side who deny nature and our creator." Now he's playing victim. He's the one being hated on. Bless his heart.

10:29 a.m.: OTHERCRAZYNORRIS is up now talking procreation, calling gays "unfortunately led astray." ALSO, MARRIAGE WASN'T BETWEEN MAN AND WOMAN FOR THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF MAN, FOOL. "Perversion, sin and eventually the complete breakdown and destruction of our society," he says. He's a charmer.

10:31 a.m.: Unitarian minister wearing "heart on her sleeve" wants the commission to sign the brief. She officiated a marriage in New York, one in Rhode Island. Why do we have to travel? What if you can't afford to travel?

10:34 p.m.: "I feel like a million people died because of prejudice," says current speaker. Also, the Catholic Church is changing its mind. "My stepbrother was Catholic," may have killed himself because he was gay. "Don't have that happen to your family."

10:36 p.m.: Jacobs: "Thank you for being here." Going to take it up before lunch, she tells Moore Russell.

10:37 p.m.: Comptroller Haynie hadn't thought much about the LGBT community until the HRO in 2010; she was "chagrined" at the fact it had to be discussed. Also from Alabama, "I always knew that I could get married." She is "honored and humbled" to put her name in support for this amicus brief. And she urges Jacobs to do so too. Jacobs is being defensive talking about the DPR. "I'll make my decision based on my own conscience."

10:40 a.m.: While we discuss the minutiae of the consent agenda, let's remind Jacobs ABOUT HOW SHE FOUGHT THE DPR TOOTH AND NAIL, EVEN TO MY FACE. YOUR LIES ABOUT "REVISIONISM" AREN'T CUTE; THEY'RE EMBARRASSING. Here's some coverage of all THAT.

10:58 a.m.: Looks like the media is rather interested in Rodriguez's story, which is awesome. Here's a pic sent by Vicki Nantz.


11:06 a.m.: AND WE'RE BACK! Moore Russell is now introducing the amicus brief argument based on her memo from last week. "I do realize that Orange County is not declaring or ruling," but making a symbolic gesture. "It's a timely issue." The briefs will be needed by Thanksgiving; Tiffany will be gone by then. "This board has in the past signed onto other" statements before. "Today I move that Orange County Gov't sign on" to the amicus brief.

11:08 a.m.: Jacobs was confused as to whether an amicus brief means we're "entering into a lawsuit." THAT'S NOT WHAT AN AMICUS BRIEF IS.

11:09 a.m.: Pete Clarke: "Sometimes it's better when we do this faster." Clarke just mentioned disliking lobbyists, and says that people as individuals can change the mind of commissioners. "We're not entering into a lawsuit," simply following up. "This is a human issue; not a political issue." "Compassion rules." I HAVE TO CONCLUDE THAT I'M GOING TO SUPPORT. "It's the right thing to do for 100,000 people in this county."

11:12 a.m.: Clarke was one of the outliers, so his support is important. We could have our four.

11:12 a.m.: Scott Boyd is talking vaguely about the Expressway Authority as a means of explaining how confusing his job is. He has stated his opinion on gay marriage. His feeling is that "I don't feel it's our place." He is supportive of marriage equality, but he's pleading the fifth on this one. It should be noted that this man showed up at a viewing of my documentary about marriage equality and death. "Unfortunately, I won't support Commissioner Russell."

11:16 a.m.: Jennifer Thompson wants to second this motion! She is "lending her name" to something, because she does this all the time. "There's so many in this room that have pretended to be my friend over the years." THIS IS ALL ABOUT HER. Don't cry for Jen, Argentina. Uh, Jen, it's not the SAME PREJUDICE.

11:18 a.m.: Jacobs has picked up the reins on this argument as a means of shooting down the partisan amendment. All of the anger came from politics. Jacobs is supporting? WHAT? She's saying it's absolutely NOT because of pressure from asshole Democrats. JACOBS IS CRYING. AND SHE IS SUPPORTING THIS.

11:20 a.m.: TEDWARDS is talking in circles and basically showing signs that he is supporting. WE CAN OFFICIALLY NOW SAY THAT THE AMICUS BRIEF WILL BE SIGNED BY THE BOARD!!!!

[youtube RiKVjS3gR88]

11:23 a.m.: Jacobs has made a motion that constitutional officers sign on, too. EXCEPT SHE'S REMOVING IT, MAKING IT "NICE AND CLEAN!"

11:25 a.m.: Haynie has made a motion that she'd be GLAD to sign. Boyd wants to "congratulate" the room, even though he voted against. 5-2 PEOPLE. THAT SMELLS LIKE VICTORY. STANDING OVATIONS EVERYWHERE!!!!!!

11:26 p.m.: Jacobs adds that this needs to be national. Well, of course it does. Thanks, Jacobs.






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