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Bar Brawl

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$750K Judgment in Yearlong Case

WILTON MANORS — After a ruling this fall by Broward County Circuit Court Judge Mark Gold, a Consent Final Judgment has been issued requiring the payment of $750,000 damages by Matty’s on the Drive to plaintiffs Jackson Padgett and Mark Negrete, the owners of Georgie’s Alibi.

The case made headlines this fall as part of the backdrop from other legal actions between Padgett and Negrete and Terry Norman and George Kessinger, the former owners of the Alibi, and one of whom, Norman,  is a principal in Matty’s, which opened in 2008 at the north end of Wilton Drive.

In February, another judge ruled that Norman and Kessinger and Norman had made knowing fraudulent misrepresentations of material facts in their sale of the Alibi to Padgett and Negrete, which entitled them to $255,000 in damages.

In his ruling, Judge Gold found that Norman, who is listed as an officer of Matty’s on the Drive’s operating entity (NAG Bar, LLC), violated a non-compete agreement he had with Padgett and Negrete when he entered into a business relationship with Matty’s.

According to the judgment, the $750,000 judgment against Matty’s and Norman resulted from “intentional, malicious, and wilful acts” to harm the plaintiffs. It also says that Norman and Matty’s agreed to the terms of the judgment’s settlement.

Miami Beach in Finals to Host 2017 worldOutgames

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MIAMI BEACH—The Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association (GLISA) last week announced its shortlist of bidders for the fourth edition of worldOutgames, with Miami Beach and Reykjavík, Iceland have been named the finalists to host the worldOutgames in 2017.

Daniel Vaudrin, Co-President of GLISA, which serves as the governing body of the worldOutgames, told reporters, “We have two amazing cities for our members to choose between at our selection meeting in Antwerp in February 2013. Both cities are very different from each other and each is equally exciting in its own way.”

Denver, Rio de Janeiro, and Rome were also considered. Officials say that a site inspection team will visit both cities to prepare a report for GLISA to review before making the final selection in February.

Barney Frank: A Gay Lion, in Winter

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In January, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) closes a distinguished legislative career that began at the dawn of the modern gay rights movement. Frank, who chaired the House Financial Services Committee until last year, was the first Member of Congress to come out (in 1987), and is considered America’s most prominent LGBT elected official.

Elected to the House in 1980 (with 52 percent of votes cast), he witnessed firsthand the nation’s long march to LGBT rights, culminating personally for him this summer with his marriage to his longtime partner, James Ready.

The distinguished gentleman from Massachusetts was in Greater Fort Lauderdale last month to attend this year’s “Stonewall Stars: Turning the Tide,” which was held on November 17 at The Manor Restaurant and Complex in Wilton Manors. The event was hosted by the Stonewall National Museum and Archives (SNMA) to celebrate the achievements of local and national individuals who further the cause of LGBT rights.

He spoke with the Florida Agenda in an exclusive interview just minutes prior to his historic South Florida appearance.

Where has your life intersected with the gay rights movement?

My political career and the movement for LGBT equality are about the same age. [The] Stonewall [Riots] in 1969 really begins the modern movement for the rights of sexual minorities, and I got elected to the Massachusetts legislature three years later.

I got to participate in the second gay rights parade in the history of Boston.

I filed the first legislation for gay rights in Massachusetts because the gay rights groups that were just forming asked everyone who was running that year to sponsor the legislation, and I was the only one who said “yes.”

Is there someone in American politics to whom you would like to be favorably compared?

When you are asked to evaluate yourself, you are either humble in a way that isn’t credible, or arrogant in a way that isn’t attractive.

There is one I would like to be compared to: Thaddeus Stevens [is historically] underappreciated. [He was] a Republican Senator from Pennsylvania before the Civil War who was a fierce believer in the equality of the races. He worked hard to accomplish it. He was a very pragmatic fanatic. And that’s what I’ve tried to be.

Pragmatism is procedural. I believe it is important to take strong positions. What’s key is once you’ve taken the position, once you’ve arrived with your ideals, then you should be pragmatic about implementing them.

In 1989, the House Ethics Committee investigated Frank concerning allegations that he was aware of illegal activities committed by an ex-lover. Frank requested the investigation “in order to insure that the public record is clear,” with the committee finding no evidence of Frank’s involvement, and the House voting 408–18 to reprimand him.

Efforts to expel Frank from the House were led by U.S. Rep. Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican whose own historical notoriety was assured when he was arrested in 2007 for lewd conduct while soliciting gay sex in an airport men’s room.

Craig’s disgrace and fall from politics (he did not seek re-election in 2008) were depicted in the 2009 documentary “Outrage.” The June 7, 2010 issue of Newsweek listed Craig as one of several prominent conservative officials whose careers as promoters of anti-gay legislation were bookended with gay sex scandals.

How do you think history will remember Larry Craig?

I think as a hypocrite.

In 1995, House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) referred to Frank as “Barney Fag” during a radio interview. Claiming it had been a slip of the tongue Armey tried to squash disclosure of the remark, and later attacked the news media for reporting it.

How will history recall Dick Armey?

As a very temporary phenomenon. He rose to power because the Republican Party won an election [the 1994 mid-terms] in which it didn’t have any real leaders available. He will go down, I think, as one of the most temporarily overrated people in American history.

Has President Obama’s re-election paved the way for a new political re-alignment?

The Democrats have a chance now to establish a very solid majority for two reasons: One of them is [demographics]. The other is that we are the party of government. We believe in the private sector, and the Republicans used to believe in government, too, before the “crazies” took over. The issue was, “Where is the line between the two?”

We’ve tended to want a bigger role for the government, the Republicans a bigger role for the private sector. What you have now is, we are poised I think to see people [thinking] better of government. In the first place, I think you’re going to see the economy do very well in the next four years.

I think the groundwork is laid for a successful Obama term by far. And out of that is going to become recognition on the part of the public that government does good things. Three years from now people are going to be very pleased with the [ObamaCare] health care bill. Three years from now, the financial reform bill will have been seen to be very good. The whole “issue” over LGBT rights is diminishing, and people are going to understand that we were right.

There’s one more thing I’m going to be pushing the President to do. We are now in a position, given the nature of the world, to reduce substantially our military expenditures. There is no need for us to be all over the world. That is a way for us to free up significant funds—$100 million a year—[and] we will still be a lot stronger than we need to be. We could free up $100 million a year, so that we could accomplish a lot of important things for the quality of life, through government, and still reduce deficit.

Create a “peace dividend?”

—And spend it in such a way that is [both] socially beneficial and politically beneficial.

Will you project yourself 10 years into the future—20 years, even—and tell me how you think the future of LGBT rights will look?

I believe 10 years from now we will have a national law banning discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. I believe people will be allowed to marry in most of the U.S., not all of it, [but] in 20 years I think all of it. And I think the fight for legal equality will have been essentially won if we keep it up.

The mistake generals have sometimes made at the point of victory is to relax. If we keep up the pressure, in 10 years we will have full legal equality.

Dream Globally, Buy Locally


“All politics is local.” Tip O’Neill

“You don’t sh** where you eat, and you definitely don’t sh** where I eat.” Tony Soprano

Welcome to the relaunch issue of the Florida Agenda. We hope you like and find value in the improvements we have made to both this journal and its sister publication, Guy Magazine. Thank you for your past and ongoing support, patronage, and honest criticisms, all of which have helped make this publication a community newspaper through and through.

Walking through the Gayborhood, you will notice the presence of small signs (perhaps too small) posted in retail and other windows enjoining you to spend your money locally this holiday season. It’s a worthy message, and one that Multimedia Platforms (the publisher of the Agenda and Guy) encourages you to put into practice as we close the remaining days of 2012—Mayan apocalypse predictions notwithstanding—prior to the end of Hanukkah (which runs through December 16), Kwanzaa (December 26 to January 1), and Christmas (you know this one).

In this modern age of convenience, there are plenty of options available to a savvy shopper, and as the economy remains tepid, it is natural and smart to be discriminating with your hard-earned dollars.

Last week, my partner and I attended the Wilton Manors Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. As the musical ensemble on stage played their hearts out, our friend, Krishan Manners came up to us and said—perennially-impish grin in place, and without a hint of irony, “Welcome to small-town living.” And wouldn’t you know we were standing on the city’s main street, Wilton Drive.

That ideal—and idyll—of a community built upon a foundation that includes gay gentrification is precisely the “promise” of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s gay ghetto (or ‘village,’ if your sensibilities prefer) to so many people around the country and the world who dream of living, working, and playing in a spot just like this.

We do our parts by ensuring that this Gayborhood—a goose responsible for laying so many golden eggs—is properly nourished, fed, watered and cared for; in short, sustained through the economic power that makes LGBT consumers the envy of every demographic and the target of every brand and commodity.

A recent survey for Shop.org found that shoppers on Cyber Monday spent an average $194.46 online, which was more than the average person spent online over the (Thanksgiving) weekend just preceding it ($172.42).

Don’t misunderstand me: in my house, we love us some eBay (and Amazon), but imagine the economic—and quality of life—impact to our community if that $366.88 four-day spending average had been spent in the Shoppes of Wilton Manors, or at Strawberry Plaza (home of Matty’s on the Drive and other establishments), or in To The Moon Marketplace, Out of the Closet, The Outlet, Island City Eyecare, LeatherWerks, 4 Men Clothing, Tropics, Tropixxx, or any of dozens of other local merchants who create jobs and a tax base for our community, our city, and our county. It builds the foundation for more gay—and yes, even some not-so-gay—men and women to build their lives here in this place we call paradise and home.

In the 13 shopping days remaining until Christmas (and the eight left until my birthday), take a moment and consider how much of your remaining shopping—and spending—can be done with merchants and venues where that money is best likely to make a positive impact in your own back yard (and preferably those where, even if the owners or management aren’t precisely a “mom” or a “pop,” you can be pretty sure that they at least have one).

Taking your money out of the local economy sends a message that you don’t support local businesses and local jobs.

By spending here, with the people in your Gayborhood, you likewise display front and center your willingness to serve as a steward for the greater community, since shopping local means saving gas and wear and tear to your car—and the environment (putting the “green” back into the season, in a meaningful way).

In this case, size doesn’t matter: large purchases, small purchases, gift cards—the world’s best shopping district outside of Naples, Italy is to be found right here on our doorsteps.

During the holidays and at every time of the year, home is what we make of it.

Mormon Church Leaders Call for Openness with Gay Members


SALT LAKE CITY, UT — In a dramatic policy shift, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, or Mormon Church) has launched a new Website aimed at gay church members and those non-gay members who are interested in a more meaningful discussion about homosexuals within the church.

Leaders were quick to clarify that their shift towards a compassionate conversation does not alter church teachings about the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, but the site—“Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction”—calls for “love” and openness in facing the challenges of being gay and LDS.

“Reconciling same-sex attraction with a religious life can present an especially trying dilemma,” the site’s presentation states, in an appeal to keep gay members within the fold. “Anyone who lives in both worlds can attest to its difficulty. But with faith, love and perspective, it can be done.”

“Same-sex attraction itself is not a sin, but yielding to it is,” the site explains. “However, through repentance Jesus Christ will offer forgiveness.”

The presentation notes that gay Mormons who are not engaged in same-sex relationships can enjoy “full fellowship in the church.” It added that LDS authorities will stop “advis[ing]” gay members to “marry those of the opposite sex.”

At Princeton, Scalia Grilled about Questionable Gay Remarks


PRINCETON, NJ — On December 10, during a lecture at Princeton University, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was grilled by an openly-gay student about legal opinions he has written that have been called homophobic.

Speaking on Monday at the Ivy League school, Scalia was asked why he considers laws that ban sodomy the equivalent of laws that prohibit murder and bestiality.

“It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd,’” Scalia, 76, told student Duncan Hosie.

“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?” added Scalia, who is touring the nation to promote his new book, “Reading Law.”

He said that lawmakers can prohibit behaviors that they consider immoral, an opinion that is consistent with his dissent in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, a 6 to 3 high court ruling that struck down sodomy laws.

Scalia’s Princeton lecture came on the heels of the high court’s decision to hear two appeals that could have far-reaching impact on the federal definition of marriage (see analysis, “The Supremes: Does ‘14’ Add Up to Equality? The Key to Gay Marriage is in the 14th Amendment” in this week’s POLITICS).

Scalia, who is the longest-serving justice on the current court, also took a swipe at those who consider the Constitution to be a “living document.”

“It isn’t a living document,” he countered. “It’s dead, dead, dead, dead.”

In Experimental Treatment, Disabled HIV Cells Destroy Leukemia



PHILADELPHIA, PA — Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed an experimental treatment in which mutated HIV cells have been used to “reprogram” patients’ immune systems to be able to kill cells causing acute lymphoblastic leukemia, according to findings presented on Monday, December 10 at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Atlanta. The results represent the achievement of years of research into finding a means of enabling a cancer patient’s own immune system to permanently fight off the disease.

Under the treatment, millions of a patient’s T-cells (a form of white blood cell) are removed, and new genes are introduced that allow the T-cells to destroy cancer cells. The treatment utilizes a disabled form of HIV, based on the virus’ ability to introduce genetic material into T-cells.

The new genes reprogram the T-cells to fight off B-cells, which are part of the immune system that leukemia turns malignant. In successful cases, when the altered T-cells are reintroduced into the patient, they multiply and destroy the cancer cells.

Using the same technique, the study authors hope they can reprogram a patient’s immune system to treat prostate and breast cancer.

The researchers say their goal is for the new treatment to eventually replace bone-marrow transplantation, a difficult procedure which is the last option available for many living with leukemia and similar conditions.

Only a dozen patients with advanced leukemia have the received the experimental treatment. Besides the University of Pennsylvania, similar studies are in trials at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York City and the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

In the University of Pennsylvania trials, three adults with chronic leukemia treated under the experimental protocols underwent full remissions, with no signs of disease; four adults improved but did not experience complete remissions, one of them being treated too recently to evaluate. Two adults experienced no results, one child improved and then relapsed, and one child has gone into full remission.

The Supremes: Does “14” Add Up to Equality?


The Key to Gay Marriage is in the 14th Amendment

On Friday, December 7, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to rule upon two separate cases involving marriage equality. The appeals concern the two most famous—and egregious—examples of modern “Jim Queer” legislation: the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California Proposition 8.

These laws and others on the state level have formed the basis of the separate but equal (and more often not equal) framework for modern American marriage laws, with some states (including three just last month) and the District of Columbia taking the “Some Like It Hot” approach, permitting full access to legal marriage and its benefits, while 31 others—and Uncle Sam himself—forbidding its recognition.

What the Supremes did NOT do last Friday was agree to rule on whether the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. Rather, the justices will decide whether such measures as DOMA and Prop 8 deny homosexual citizens their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the document’s 14th Amendment.

If a majority of justices agree that such is the case, the ruling would be tantamount in some respects to the court’s decision in the landmark 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education, which declared as unconstitutional state laws that established “separate but equal” public schools for black and white students.

Another decision that informs that arguments of gay marriage advocates is a less familiar Supreme Court ruling, Loving v. Virginia in 1967. In that decision, the court under Chief Justice Earl Warren found anti-miscegenation laws (which banned interracial marriages in more than a dozen states) to be unconstitutional, despite the fact that at that time much of society looked down upon such unions.

Should the Roberts Court interpret ‘14’ in the same “spirit” as the Warren Court did in 1954 in 1967, it will trample over the central thesis used by opponents of marriage equality, who claim they are merely defending the traditional definition of a union between one man and one woman. (That definition fails to account for the more than 100,000 same-sex marriages that have taken place in the U.S. since 2004.)

In a similar fashion as the Warren Court in the Brown decision, Chief Justice John Roberts & Co. must here decide how equal protection is applied to cases involving the sexual orientation of a “married” (or seeking-to-be-married) couple.

There is reason for both sides to crow their optimism, since at this point it isn’t clear how the justices will rule in this quinella of cases. The opinions in the last two gay rights decisions of the high court (Romer v. Evans in 1996, and Lawrence v. Texas in 2003) were both written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Although both of those rulings dramatically increased the law’s recognition of LGBT rights, experts cannot predict where Kennedy will fall in the deciding upon the DOMA and Proposition 8 appeals.

Much as the Warren Court did in 1967 in striking down racist marriage laws, Kennedy’s opinion in the 2003 Lawrence decision found that society’s moral disapproval of a practice isn’t sufficient reason to uphold a law that bans it.

In a rash of recent lower court rulings in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York (most of them written by federal judges appointed during the administrations of both Bush-41 and Bush-43), DOMA and other laws that draw differences between straight and gay marriage have been struck down.

Of the two cases up for a high court decision (which is likely to come down in June), the justices have agreed to take up the appeal of an elderly New York City woman, Edith Windsor, who is challenging DOMA’s prohibition on married same-sex couples from receiving over 1,100 federal benefits—including spousal participation in health insurance coverage, joint filing of federal tax returns, and Social Security survivor payments, among many others—that are already guaranteed to straight married couples.

Windsor’s lawyers argue that Congress had no valid reason when it passed DOMA in 1996 to deny equal federal benefits granted to heterosexual married couples to similarly-situated gay spouses whose marriages are recognized in states where it is legal.

In the case of the Proposition 8 appeal, the justices must rule whether California’s 2008 statewide voter-approved referendum violates the equal protection rights of gay couples trying to get married. That referendum—which passed by a 52 to 48 percent margin—was a reaction to the California Supreme Court decision that the state constitution recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry.

In the five months after that ruling, about 20,000 marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in California, while opponents of gay marriage mobilized to place the matter up for a popular plebiscite.

When a number of same-sex couples challenged the voter-approved law in federal court on the grounds that the referendum violated their constitutional right to marry, a federal judge declared it unconstitutional, and on appeal, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled against Proposition 8.

However, instead of deciding that the U.S. Constitution provides a right to gay marriage, the appeals court found the statewide initiative violated the rights of gay couples by taking away a right that had already been granted by the California Supreme Court, thus denying them equal protection.

In his dissent to the 6 to 3 Lawrence v. Texas ruling, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned.”

The question remains to be answered if that structure—much like the one that for centuries supported racist marriage laws—is ready to be finally and permanently dismantled.

Gay Activist Expresses “Thoughts on Charlie Crist’s Coming Out” as a Democrat


WILTON MANORS — On Sunday, Greater Fort Lauderdale-based LGBT right activist Michael Rajner posted on Facebook his “initial thoughts on Charlie Crist’s [political] coming out” and “on the White House and [Obama For America] selling Florida to [him].”

Rajner, who serves on a number of state and local private, political, and policy entities, said that OFA has done an end run around [the Florida Democratic Party’s] process” in throwing its support behind the former Florida Governor. He added, “They can go screw themselves.”

In a photo attached to the post, Rajner noted that, among other things, “As Florida Governor, Crist actively campaigned in the ‘culture war’ against LGBT people to add discrimination of LGBT Floridians in the state constitution,” and that he “did nothing as Florida’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program set a shameful national record.”

“Why support Charlie Crist, who has all the integrity of a used car salesman?” Rajner asked.


PB Human Rights Council Calls for Boca to Extend Partner Benefits


BOCA RATON—Last week, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) again requested that the Boca Raton City Council recognize the domestic partners of city employees as family members and to extend them the benefits received by legally-recognized spouses.

“We’re asking the city of Boca Raton to do what the city of West Palm Beach did in February 1992 – 20 years ago,” PBCHRC President Rand Hoch said. “We’re not asking for anything radical. We’re asking for them to treat their employees and their employees’ families equally.”

Domestic partnership benefits are currently offered by the Palm Beach County municipalities of Delray Beach, Jupiter, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington, and West Palm Beach, and also by Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County School District, the Port of Palm Beach, the Palm Beach County Health Care District, Palm Beach State College, the Children’s Services Council, Palm Tran, Seacoast Utility Authority, the Solid Waste Authority and all five of Palm Beach County’s elected officials.

Hoch said that Boca Raton is Palm Beach County’s biggest city that isn’t on that list. “They are talking maybe three to five employees, at most,” he added. “You are either going to treat people fairly or you are going to discriminate against them.”

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