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Manors Tragedy: M.E. Ruling Pending on Popular Bodybuilder/Model’s “Unattended Death”

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WILTON MANORS—On Monday morning, January 28, the residents of the Wilton Tower on Northeast 20th Street witnessed the arrival of emergency vehicles, police cruisers, a Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) Crime Scene van, and eventually the county Medical Examiner’s truck, each of which had responded to reports of the tragic death of a popular local bodybuilder, fitness trainer, and one-time Colt model, Christian Bouthillette, who lived at the high rise with his partner, Frank Angiulli.

Although the official ruling from the county Medical Examiner’s office upon the manner of Bouthillette’s death—including a toxicology report—could take up to two weeks to be released, official sources close to the case who declined to be identified told the Agenda that the 52 year old Montreal-native was discovered “unattended” in his bath tub.

The management of the luxury apartment building—which is located behind Dairy Queen and Tropics restaurant, near the south end of Wilton Drive—expressed sadness for Bouthillette’s death, and Community Manager Heather Sparks posted a note of condolence and sympathy near the building’s elevators, explaining the cause of his passing as a massive heart attack.

The source close to the case told the Agenda that Bouthillette’s exact cause of death won’t be known until the toxicology is completed, but that source referred to an online report that Bouthillette had been arrested last weekend in Miami-Dade County for cocaine-related offenses. The same source also stated that a note had been found on the scene by investigators.

Bouthillette, whom neighbors say was warm and friendly, was an award-winning bodybuilder, a nationally-recognized trainer, and a popular Colt model whose images are available online.

He welcomed visitors to his fitness Website (bodyimagefitness.us) with a friendly open manner that his friends say was second nature to him. “Hi. My name is Christian,” he wrote on the site.

Bouthillette, a Montreal native, graduated from high school in 1977. According to his self-written Web bio, “I started bodybuilding at the age of 21 in Spain. I studied science of education in Montreal, and was a track and field athlete. After being diagnosed with periostitis (the inflammation of the periosteum, a layer of connecting tissues that surround the bone) my tibia was affected and I could no longer jump or run. So I turned to bodybuilding to keep fit and healthy.”

After winning numerous bodybuilding competitions—including the 1995 Canada Cup, 1st Place in mixed pairs, the 1998 National Physique Committee (NPC) New York Grand Prix 1st Place in super heavy weight, and the 2004 NPC East Coast, 1st Place in super heavy weight—Bouthillette “started [his] dream job” in 1998 as a personal trainer.

Ken Hunt, the owner of New York City-based Steel Gym, knew Bouthillette for more than 10 years, and had employed him in both New York and Miami. “Christian was a very dear friend of mine,” he told the Agenda. “He was a sweet person whose biggest muscle was his heart.”

Hunt told the Agenda that plans were being made to hold a memorial event in Bouthillette’s memory.

He says he had spoken with Bouthillette’s partner, and been told that his friend had died from a massive heart attack.

Hunt described Bouthillette as a “friendly” and “serious” person, who was sometimes “guarded” around others, especially those who only saw him at face value.

“I remember being at Fort Lauderdale Beach with him last year,” Hunt recalled. “He was very friendly, but I remember him saying that it was funny how most people only saw him as this big muscular guy, how they felt they ‘knew’ him from his fame as a Colt model. But that wasn’t the deeper part of Christian. It’s really a terrible loss.”

While officials wait the official ruling from the medical examiner, his loved ones try to make sense of their loss, and take comfort from the memories they retain of their friend. On his training Website, Bouthillette himself wrote that he gained tremendous satisfaction from “Helping people get what they want and reach their goals like I did; using the experience and knowledge I’ve acquired during my career in bodybuilding.”

 

A New Frontier: Navigating LGBT Adoption in the Sunshine State

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The historical journey to legalized gay adoption in the Sunshine State has been a winding one. Florida Statute 63.042 allows any minor or adult to be adopted by married or unmarried adults, including anyone capable of “serving as an effective parent.” But the law also states that, “(3) No person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual.”

Critics of this unfair discrepancy were loud and relentless in point it out. State law didn’t prohibit gays from being foster parents, but it prevented them from adopting their own foster kids. The courts refused to intervene, until the landmark case known as In re: Gill, 45 So. 3rd 79 (Fla. App. 2010), when the 3rd District Appellate Court affirmed a lower court ruling in Miami that declared Statute 63.042(3) unconstitutional, and granting adoption of foster children to their gay foster parent.

In its decision, the court ruled there was no rational relationship between the legal ban and the best interests of Florida’s children.

“Under Florida law, homosexual persons are allowed to serve as foster parents or guardians, but are barred from being considered for adoptive parents. All other persons are eligible to be considered case-by-case to be adoptive parents, but not homosexual persons—even where, as here, the adoptive parent is a fit parent and the adoption is in the best interest of the children,” the appellate court found.

The ruling’s effect was to overturn a long-standing legal ban on gay adoption in the Sunshine State, and open the doors for qualified gay persons to adopt.

Jeff Kasky, Esq. is a Florida adoption lawyer, and the Vice President of One World Adoption Services, Inc., a Florida-licensed not-for-profit child placing agency. He is also the co-author of “99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Choosing Adoption.”

Give us some background into the progression from 1977, when the state legislature prohibited gay adoption, and why Florida resisted all legislative and judicial attempts to repeal the law.

In my personal opinion, the ban on so-called ‘gay adoption’ was based on religious conservatism. This pre-dates my adulthood, but look back at the 1970s Anita Bryant era and see how homosexuals were treated. The legislature would take advantage of any possible way they could to deny civil rights to that group, and they believed they were justified for religious reasons.

What are the methods/ways for LGBT couples to adopt in Florida?

LGBT couples CANNOT adopt in the State of Florida, unless they are married (which they can’t legally under state laws), or unless they undertake a procedure called “second parent adoption,” in which a non-married partner (who doesn’t have to be LGBT) is also legally recognized as a parent to the child.

The concept of second parent adoption is perfectly legal and legitimate, but is more readily recognized in more liberal areas. It gets more “controversial” as you move north up the state, if you know what I mean.

The methods/ways for LGBT persons to adopt in Florida are no different than anyone else. There are private agencies, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), foster-to-adopt via DCF or its community-based partners and private attorneys.

How do private adoptions work?

With a private adoption, you find a particular child. The prospective birth mother and child could be found through an attorney, or through a service. With a private adoption, the adoptive parents are generally responsible for the biological mother’s medical expenses and legal fees. You don’t—and can’t legally—pay for the adoption itself, but other expenses could include paying for the birth mother’s living expenses.

 

Peacocking, Posturing, and the Art of Not Getting Killed in Traffic

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In the interest of privacy and maintaining the anonymity of an otherwise “innocent party,” I will try to paint in broad brushstrokes here, but if you spend anytime walking, driving, or otherwise “cruising” the streets and byways of the Gayborhood, you may have had occasion to encounter a fairly regular sight, that of an attractive (a word that barely does justice to the subject, if truth be told) twenty-something, usually bare-chested and standing on the corner of one of the sleepier residential side-streets that feed the Drive.

I also remember the young man from my days socializing in downtown Fort Lauderdale and seeing him with women going into various clubs that I managed at the time (including Dicey Riley’s, with the late Richard Cimoch). This putatively straight kid, who spends more time at the gym than I have allotted hours for “Walking Dead,” which is no small feat—can often be seen pacing back and forth down his street, speaking on his cellphone, shirtless and deep in conversation.

I have had occasion to see him—actually a lot of occasions—because my paths to and from work often cross those of his home turf, and I therefore have just as many occasions to bear witness to the behaviors of other members of our tribe who happen upon him while he is “peacocking”—displaying himself, strutting—unsuspecting and without the benefit of inoculation that prolonged exposure to the sight of him has bestowed upon me.

I have listened to friends speculate upon the nature and reason for this guy’s posturings. These friends are convinced that he is gay for pay, and at least one “well-informed” local confirms this.

Many of these once-unwary passers-by first encountered him when they turn down his street and—BAM!— glimpsed him texting, or posting to Instagram, or—sometimes—facing the sky, his eyes closed.

What happens next could be the subject of a sociology—or is it anthropology?—paper. I have seen cars literally stop mid-street, bicyclists risk permanent maiming and brain injury when they nearly collide, and pedestrians “stutter-step” into moving traffic because they mischanced to glance his way.

Don’t get me wrong: the guy is handsome (okay, hot), but I’m not going to get killed by a passing Schwinn just to sneak a gander. It wouldn’t be dignified.

eBay, Marriott Join List of Companies Supporting Gay-Marriage Legislation

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WASHINGTON, DC — Marriott International Inc. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. have joined with more than a dozen other major companies in supporting efforts to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 federal law that defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman.

Along with eBay, Inc., operator of the world’s largest web-based marketplace, Aetna, the nation’s third-largest health insurance company, has also joined the business coalition organized by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

“We are proud of our longstanding commitment to diversity, inclusion and equal treatment of all our employees within our benefits programs,” said David Rodriguez, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Marriott, the nation’s largest publicly-traded hotel chain. “Joining the Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal affirms that commitment, and we urge Congress to pass this important legislation.”

Nine states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex couples to legally marry, and the White House has stopped defending DOMA, which is being challenged at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Boy Scouts Considers Reversal on Anti-Gay Ban

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NEW YORK, NY — On Monday, January 28, the Boys Scouts of America (BSA) announced that it is considering a dramatic reversal of its controversial policy that excludes gays from membership in the organization, as from serving as scout leaders.

The policy change, if enacted, would permit local Scout units—and the civic and religious groups that sponsor them—to decide for themselves whether to maintain an exclusion of gays or open their up to gay candidates.

Scouting spokesman Deron Smith insisted that, “the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents.”

The Boys Scouts, which turned 100 in 2010, has a long history of excluding gays. Protests over the no-gays policy increased after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that upheld Scouting’s right to exclude gays. In the backlash, Scout units lost sponsorships from public schools and other entities that mandate nondiscrimination policies. A number of local Scout councils also voiced opposition to the national policy.

Major corporate donors have likewise expressed their displeasure, including worldwide shipping company UPS and pharmaceutical giant Merck, who ceased donations to the Boy Scouts from their charitable foundations.

The decision by BSA to oust scout leader Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mother who served as den mother of her son’s Ohio Cub Scout pack, as well as refusing the Eagle Scout application of a gay California teen, Ryan Andresen, have also generated considerable negative fallout for Scouting.

Manors Police Arrest Kids in Distress Predator

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WILTON MANORS — At press conference on Monday, January 28, Wilton Manors police announced the arrest of a man charged with sexual assault upon two teenagers. The minors were residents of Kids in Distress, the Northeast 26 Street-based counseling and health center with a mission to prevent child abuse, preserve families, and treat children who have been abused and neglected.

Brian Denby is charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 to 15 years old, and two counts of lewd or lascivious exhibition. Police had circulated an artist’s rendering of their suspect, which was posted around the community

Wilton Manors Police Sgt. Charles Howard told reporters that Denby encountered the teens sometime after 3 a.m. on January 7, after approaching the Kids in Distress facility. After talking with the underage victims, Denby jumped the fence and proceeded to perform sexual acts with two of the teens.

Surveillance cameras at Kids in Distress captured images of the man Howard identified as Denby walking near the shelter’s entrance, stopping to talk to the teens. Detectives say that witnesses reported him jumping the fence, and performing sexual acts with the two girls in the open.

The victims and witnesses did not inform shelter officials about the assaults until days later. Administrators alerted police once they were aware of the crimes. Howard said.

Kids in Distress serves approximately 10,000 children each year; many of them are homeless or the victims of neglect and abuse.

The victims, who were described as being in their early teens, are receiving counseling in a different care facility.

Howard told the Agenda that at least four other children witnessed the assaults. Investigators received an anonymous tip on Friday from someone who knows Denby. The informant told police that Denby had bragged about his assault upon the teens.

Detectives learned that their suspect was on a weekend cruise that had left the Port of Miami on Friday. When the ship docked on Monday morning, federal agents and Wilton Manors police were waiting for him.

Last week, administrators fired two child care workers who worked during the overnight shift for negligence in failing to keep tabs on the teenagers during the incident. Officials with the shelter say that because it is not a lock-down facility, the teens had access to the environs outside their living accommodations.  Nevertheless, the overnight care personnel should have been aware of the presence of a predator and been able to respond accordingly.

Palm Beach County Tax Collector Implements Domestic Partner Policy

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WEST PALM BEACH — The office of Palm Beach County Constitutional Tax Collector Anne Gannon has instituted a policy which will help offset additional taxes paid by employees who elect to provide health insurance to their domestic partners, an action taken at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.

Under federal tax laws, unmarried employees with domestic partners and same-sex married couples are taxed on the imputed value of employer-paid family health insurance benefits, a situation that does not apply to opposite-sex married employees possessing the same family coverage, who are not taxed on the value of that same family health insurance coverage.

Federal legislation to amend the Internal Revenue Code to end the taxation of health insurance benefits provided to domestic partners was first introduced in 2003 by U.S. Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), but there has been no progress made to enact it at the national level in the past decade.

“My employees whose families are based on domestic partnerships pay more federal taxes than married employees for the same family health insurance coverage,” said Gannon. “That is unfair. I won’t wait any longer for Congress to end this inequity.”

Gannon’s tax equity policy provides employees who elect to insure their domestic partners with an annual tax equity reimbursement of $500 to mitigate the impact of the additional income taxes paid by employees with domestic partners.

Last month, Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits implemented a similar tax equity program for his employees. In the public sector, only Hallandale Beach and Cambridge, Massachusetts have taken steps to address this tax inequity.

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio recently informed the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council that her city will consider a tax equity program for its municipal employees, and attorneys for the cities of West Palm Beach and Miami Beach are working together to draft a policy which they hope will become a nationwide model for public employer tax equity programs.

Fort Lauderdale Playwright’s “Proposition 8” opens at Lynn University

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BOCA RATON — Fort Lauderdale-based Dan Clancy’s play about a gay couple’s decision to initiate California’s Proposition 8 legal challenge will have a workshop production as part of Lynn University and the Jan McArt Theater’s series of New Play Readings.

Directed by Stuart Meltzer, “Proposition 8” follows Will and Ned, a Los Angeles gay couple and their decision to become plaintiffs in the historic court case, as well as their own journey to define the word “commitment.” The play will challenge your understanding of marriage and commitment, at a time before the U.S. Supreme Court rules on this groundbreaking case. At Lynn University’s Wold Performing Arts Center (3601 N. Military Trail, Boca Raton).

 

Atlantis Independence Sailing Departs Fort Lauderdale Feb. 2

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FORT LAUDERDALE — The 3,700-guest Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas departs from Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, February 2, for an eight-day all-gay chartered sailing, which will include stops in St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan, and the private island of Labadee.

Gallery XO Wine Tasting and Art Exhibition, Feb. 1

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WILTON MANORS — Gallery XO (2376 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors) hosts a free wine tasting event on Friday, February 1, including a sampling of international wines and art exhibits, featuring works by Maciel Cantelmo (awarded First Place in Show from Broward Art Guild and Arts United for his drawing, “Handful”), including “His,” and “Boy,” erotic pastels by Michael Bryette, and the exclusive collection of the late Steve Walker.

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