LGBTQ Rights

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Tony Varona immigrated to the United States from Cuba as a small child. Growing up in Newark, New Jersey, he was the only person in his family who spoke English.

“I was called upon to be the family translator and to be the family representative. Whenever anybody needed to go to the immigration office or the Social Security office, I went with them,” he said. “That experience taught me about advocacy.”

Varona also navigated what he called the 'challenging task' of coming out as gay as a working-class Cuban immigrant in Newark.

Stonewall National Museum & Archives
Diana Davies/The New York Public Library / WLRN

Friday marks 50 years since LGBTQ activists rioted at the Stonewall Inn in New York. The famous protests accelerated the movement to secure rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans.

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Three years after the deadliest act of violence against LGBTQ people in the history of the country, at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, activists across the state are encouraged by what they say are positive steps forward for Florida’s LGBTQ community. 

In spite of significant challenges, including from conservative lawmakers who hold the majority of seats in the statehouse, a federal memorial is in the works at the site of the shooting in Orlando. And this week, Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis voiced his support for the gay community. 

Fifteen years ago, David Wilson and his husband Rob Compton were one of the first same-sex couples to marry in the U.S.

If it had been up to Wilson and Compton, their union would've been recognized years before that. Frustrated by the injustice, both men became plaintiffs in a lawsuit that led to Massachusetts becoming the first state to legalize same-sex marriage on May 17, 2004.

They married in Boston at City Hall and at their church that same day.

In Austin, Texas, a new raft of anti-LGBT legislation is working its way through the state legislature. One of the bills would allow state licensed professionals of all stripes — from doctors and pharmacists to plumbers and electricians — to deny services on religious grounds. Supporters say the legislation is needed to protect religious freedoms. But opponents call them "religious refusal bills" or "bigot bills."

Peter Nunn is 32 and he's happy. He lives just outside Atlanta with his husband Monte, his dog Amelie, and their cat Hollow.

The dining room is decorated with a photo gallery wall of family — his husband dancing with his mother at their wedding and pictures of the couple. But it took a long time and work to get to a place where Nunn said he accepted and loved himself.

As a gay man, Nunn said, his father tried to change him.

History of Miami

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a new exhibition chronicles the history of Miami-Dade County’s LGBTQ community over the past 120 years. 

Governor Ron DeSantis did not include LGBTQ employees in an executive order that setup workplace discrimination policies in government offices this week. Without these protections, people can be hired or fired solely based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

If you just happened to be in the crowd at a super featherweight bout in Indio, Calif., on Saturday evening, you might not understand the importance of that particular boxing match.

A group of lawmakers and advocates held a Transgender Day of Remembrance at the Capitol Tuesday to honor those killed by anti-trans violence. Democratic State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith says Florida lawmakers can do more to protect transgender Floridians. First and foremost, Smith says, the Legislature can pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West elected a new mayor Tuesday for the first time in nine years. And Teri Johnston's victory was historic: she's the first openly lesbian woman to win election as a mayor in Florida, according to the LGBTQ rights group Equality Florida

Johnston has lived in Key West for 20 years. She works as a local contractor. And she served as a city commissioner for eight years.

The State Department has reversed course on its visa requirements for same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and the staff of U.S.-based international organizations. On Monday, it implemented a policy denying visas to such partners if they're not legally married.

The Colorado baker who won a Supreme Court case over his refusal to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple is suing state officials, alleging religious discrimination over his refusal to make a cake celebrating a gender transition.

Attorneys for Jack Phillips, who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., said Wednesday that the state is "continuing to single out Jack for punishment and to exhibit hostility toward his religious beliefs."

Courtesy of Lynn Lavner

Thanks to my father’s late-life nostalgia, last summer my family reconnected with a woman we’d known back in Brooklyn decades ago who’d gone on to live a remarkable life. Her name is Lynn Lavner, and it turns out, she’d been living under 10 miles away from my parents’ place in south Florida for years. It also turns out that in the decades since we’d seen her, she’d become a pioneering crusader in the movement for equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

Danny Hwang / WLRN News

Miami Beach celebrated pride in its 10th annual Gay Pride Festival this past week. Events began last Monday with a rainbow flag-raising ceremony at City Hall.

On Sunday, the event culminated with a parade. Ocean Drive was shut down for the duration of the main parade, which ran from Fifth to 15th streets.

Paul Thomas is on the board of Miami Beach Gay Pride. He said 83 groups would draw a crowd of more than 135,000 people.

“Lots of creativity, lots of fun as everybody marches down Ocean Drive celebrating who they are,” he said.

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