House LGBT Caucus Commends Passage of Bipartisan Chechnya Resolution

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The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus commended the House of Representatives for passing H.Res.351, a bipartisan resolution condemning the detention, torture, and murders of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. H.Res.351 was introduced by LGBT Caucus founding member and former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) on May 23rd and passed in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 25th by unanimous voice vote. H.Res.351 has 83 bipartisan cosponsors. H.Res.351 passed by voice vote.

“I’m proud that the House passed this strong resolution condemning the recent violence targeting gay men in Chechnya. Now, it’s critical that we do more to ensure those fleeing horrific violence can relocate somewhere safe,” said LGBT Caucus CoChair Rep. David Cicilline (RI-01). “This is an important step, but there is much more work left to be done.”

"We will continue to stand united with the LGBT community and shine a bright light on these atrocities, which are encouraged by the evil Putin regime in Russia, in order to help ensure that those who are responsible for these crimes are held to account for their despicable actions," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27)

“The People’s House has now made its collective and unanimous voice known: the situation in Chechnya cannot stand,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47). “We as a nation must lead the world in acting. It is our duty and responsibility to be the beacon on the hill that leads the way. It is now up to President Trump, Secretary of State Tillerson, and our United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley to follow through on the consensus of the House and bring as much domestic and international political pressure as possible on the Russian government to rein in these deplorable human rights violations.”  

Since early March, Chechen law enforcement officials have arrested and detained over 100 gay men in prisons, with reports of torture and starvation. Initial reports and confirmation by human rights organizations confirmed three deaths, with up to 20 deaths now reported. Both the U.S. State Department and US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley have condemned the reports. On April 7th, 2017, a bipartisan group of 50 Members of Congress, led by Reps. Lowenthal and Cicilline, wrote to the State Department calling on Secretary Tillerson to condemn the violence during his trip to Russia.


Wasserman Schultz on Senate TrumpCare CBO Score




Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) issued the following statement in response to today’s Congressional Budget Office score on the impacts of the Senate’s TrumpCare legislation:

“Now we know just how mean this ‘mean’ Senate tax cut bill masquerading as health care legislation truly is. According to the Congressional Budget Office analysis, the Senate bill will leave 22 million more people without coverage, raise costs and steal key coverage protections from tens of millions more Americans. It’s a financial and health care horror show that will impact over 70,000 citizens in my district alone over the next decade.

While millionaires and billionaires reap huge tax breaks, older middle-class Americans will suffer under a crushing ‘age tax.’ The victims of this legislation cross every part of our community: seniors, veterans, children, pregnant women, people with pre-existing conditions, and those living in nursing homes, even hospitals and state taxpayers, will all be worse off.  Senators should listen to the medical professionals and patient advocacy groups who are united in saying this bill will do nothing but make America sicker and poorer and vote against it.”

Wasserman Schultz on Supreme Court Review of Trump Muslim Ban




 Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) issued the following statement in response to today’s Supreme Court decision to review President Trump’s Muslim and refugee travel ban, and to allow parts of the lower court injunctions against it to be implemented, pending its review:

“The Supreme Court’s decision to allow portions of President Trump’s Muslim and refugee ban to take effect sends a terrible message to the world, does nothing to make America safer, and disregards our national values. This rash, discriminatory policy ultimately undermines our ability to fight terrorism, as it will certainly serve as a recruiting tool for those who would do us harm. It is my hope that the Supreme Court will conclude that this clear religious ban is discriminatory and inconsistent with our Constitution.”

Public Defender Finkelstein says he’s not running for Congress

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Howard Finkelstein said Thursday he’s not sure what he’ll be doing when he retires as Broward County public defender when his current term expires — but it won’t involve running for Congress in 2018.
“It’s nothing I’d ever thought about. I’m really focused on finishing up this term, making sure poor people don’t fall through the cracks, and my great hope is to make sure that the next person that sits in the public defender chair is someone that is there for the mission of helping poor people. Not for the political power or patronage or political stepping stone. That’s really my interest,” he said.
Finkelstein said the notion hadn’t even crossed his mind until he was asked by a reporter, adding the question solved a mystery. “That’s why I’m getting these weird texts and emails,” he said. “I was getting some really strange texts and emails.”

Deutch Sets the Record Straight on Trumpcare (VIDEO)

Rep. Deutch Sets the Record Straight on Trumpcare (VIDEO)

(Washington) Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22) released a video in which he outlines the disastrous provisions of House Republicans' Trumpcare bill and warns that the Senate's secret bill may be just as harmful to millions of Americans.

"Americans deserve to know what's in the new Trumpcare bill," said Rep. Deutch. "Senate Republicans think that hiding it behind closed doors means the public won’t notice its devastating impacts. I'm setting the record straight."

Click the image below to watch Congressman Deutch's video.

Governor Rick Scott Vetoes Two Bills

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Governor Rick Scott Vetoes Two Bills

Today, Governor Rick Scott vetoed the following bills:

SB 2512
Capitol Complex Advisory Council – To view the veto letter, click HERE.
HB 5501
Economic Programs – To view the veto letter, click HERE.

Democrats across the State of Florida gathered at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood




Democrats across the State of Florida gathered at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood for the annual Leadership Blue Dinner, an annual fundraising tradition to raise money and generate spirit for the upcoming 2018 election cycle and other upcoming elections. The weekend of panels and discussion concluded with the gala dinner, with the keynote speaker being former Vice President Joe Biden.
The gubernatorial panel at the Diplomat was packed with people overflowing into the hallway to hear what the three gubernatorial hopefuls had to say. It was a friendly forum, not a contentious debate, with the three candidates praising each other and at the end the three put their arms around into each other in comradery. Attendees at the forum included Congresswoman Val Demmings, Congressman Alcee Hastings, former gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, and also Gwen’s father, Bob Graham and his wife, Adele. The candidates shared the same views on fracking, school vouchers, and other issues.
Gillum spoke about his background and how he was the youngest person to serve on the Tallahassee commission at the age of 23. He spoke about his background, and how his parents came from humble beginnings, and they raised him to look after other people. He also said he never backed down from a fight, and when the NRA came calling, he fought them and won. He also supported marriage equality, and when the certain places refused to issue marriage certificates to gays and lesbians, he told them to come to Tallahassee to get married. Gillum also spoke about climate deniers, such as the president and the governor, and how important climate change and sea level rise were to the State of Florida. Gillum said that Republicans had done wrong by the State of Florida, and it was time for a Democratic governor to be in Tallahassee again.
“We need to send a governor to Tallahassee who’s a Democrat and win back the State,” he said, “for all working people again.”
Chris King spoke about challenges in the State of Florida, such as affordable housing and job creation, and how wages have not kept up with the economy. King said that the State was “in the back of the pack” of other states. King also noted that poverty had gone up and the rate of uninsured had gone up as well. King said that the raids on the housing trust fund must end, and that it was possible for everyone to do well. He also spoke about the need for public education, and how ninety percent of Florida’s students were in public schools. He also said he would not take money from the sugar industry. He spoke about integrity and the “big tent” philosophy that was necessary for the Democratic Party.
“That’s what this campaign is about,” said King. “We are people of integrity. Come to our tent. Think big with us in 2018.”
Graham spoke about the twenty years of Republican dominance in the state’s legislature and how it had damaged the state and its people. She also said that schools had been turned into big testing factories and kids didn’t want to go to school anymore. She also spoke about the environment and job creation, and about how the current governor was talking about jobs, jobs, and jobs. She wanted to talk about opportunities instead of jobs. Most people were barely hanging on in the state, she said, and she wanted to change that so people could have better job opportunities. Graham also said that she won her Congressional seat during a Red year, and she felt she could do it again in 2018, during a Blue wave.
“This is the election that will determine Florida’s future,” said Graham. “Let’s go out and make sure that 2018 is not a Red year, but a Blue year where we turn Florida blue.”
 
 
At the dinner that evening, speakers from the Florida Democratic Party included Sally Boynton Brown and State Party Chair Stephen Bittel. Bittel said that change was difficult and messy. Brown praised people for doing difficult and incredible work, calling people “change makers.” Senator Nelson spoke about how it was his honor to serve with public servants such as Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama, and many others. He spoke of the Nixon era where Nixon fired so many people and finally was forced to resign and felt that history was repeating itself. Nelson also spoke about the close relationship between Obama and Biden and how that relationship had been one of the closest in the country’s history.
Biden thanked people for the praise and praised Bittel for his service to the State of Florida, and for other people who had helped get him and President Obama elected. Biden spoke about the lack of civil public discourse that had become evident in today’s political environment and how people had used hate and angry rhetoric to get elected. Biden also spoke about the need to reach out to other people who did not vote for Democrats in the recent election to try to bring them into the fold. He spoke about the recent revolutions in technology and how many people had been left behind and were afraid of the future. He spoke about the fact that Hillary Clinton had gotten three million votes more than the current president and that a fraction of votes had cost the Democrats the presidency. Biden said that the party had to stand up for its Democratic values and include everyone. He spoke of the Hobson’s choice, a phony one in which Democrats had to choose progressive or mainstream values. Why not include it all, he said.
“Either we become less progressive and focus on working folks,” he said. “There is no need to choose. They voted for a black man named Barack Obama. In order to save my soul, I have to cut my heart out. We’re better than this.”
 Slide Show of the event HERE

Florida Democratic Party hosts its Leadership Blue Gala In Hollywood

Florida Democratic Party

This weekend the Florida Democratic Party hosts its fourth annual Leadership Blue Gala (formerly known as the Jefferson-Jackson dinner) from Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, with over 1,200 Democrats expected to attend the event.
Saturday night’s speaking schedule kicks-off with comments from the new FDP regime: Chair Stephen Bittel and President Sally Boynton Brown. Party officials are reporting the $800,000 they’ve raised this year for the event through ticket sales and sponsorships to fund the FDP's new community engagement program, aimed at growing the party's grassroots infrastructure in advance of the 2018 election cycle.
While Bittel has been traversing the state in getting himself acquainted with grassroots party members since his election in January, this will be the first time for many Dems to hear from Brown, the former Idaho Democratic Party executive director
Senator Bill Nelson, DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake and a handful of state legislators are on the agenda scheduled to speak, leading into the keynote address by former Vice President Joe Biden.


As usual, there will be meetings by the various party caucuses Like Ours The LGBTA Democratic Caucus, throughout Saturday, as well as a panel featuring the three announced gubernatorial candidates, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Winter Park businessman Chris King.

The Leadership Blue Gala is an opportunity for Democrats across the state to come together, celebrate the party and prepare to turn Florida blue in 2018. The event will add to the growing excitement and engagement throughout the state as the party organizes to elect Democrats up and down the ticket during the next campaign cycle. 
Former Vice-President Joe Biden 
 Saturday, June 17th, 2017 at 7:00 pm
 The Diplomat Hotel
             3555 S. Ocean Drive
             Hollywood, FL 33109


Update From The FDP

tickets Still Available!
There is a limited quantity of tickets for the gala still available for purchase at the link below:
UPDATED Leadership Blue Schedule
Please find attached the updated schedule of events for this year’s Leadership Blue Weekend!

Two Important notes regarding the DCCA: 

The DCCA regular meeting has been set for 10AM on Saturday in Room 307
  
Additionally, all Democrats are invited to attend the Friday evening Welcome Reception & Dance Party, hosted by the DCCA from 7-9pm.  NOTE NEW LOCATION:  CONCIERGE LOUNGE ON THE 33rd FLOOR, ACCESSIBLE VIA THE NORTH & SOUTH TOWERS!   Wear your shades & put your dancing shoes on!

Panel Members and Moderators Released
As an update from our last email, we are pleased to introduce our Panel members and moderators:
The Resistance Panel
A discussion on protests, direct action, and coordinating to make change. 
The Moderator:
DeRay McKesson.............................Black Lives Matter/This is the Movement
Introducing the Moderator.……………………………Aaron McKinney
The Panel:
Ida Eskamani ………………………………………………..Organize Florida
Carrie Feit..……………………………………………Women March Florida
Thomas Kennedy……………….People's Progressive Caucus of Miami Dade
Karla HernĂ¡ndez-Mats……………………………...United Teachers of Dade
Charo Valero……………………………...Florida Latina Advocacy Network
Dominik Whitehead….....................American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees/ Secretary DeVos Protest Organizer
Our Voice, Our Issues: Panel on Intersectionality
A candid panel discussion on the intersections of race, culture, and the issues affecting our state.
The Moderator:
State Representative Cynthia Stafford……………...........State Representative
Introducing the Moderator…………………………….. Kristellys Estanga
The Panel:
State Senator Oscar Braynon, II………………………………...State Senator
Tom Conboy………………...South Florida Engineering and Consulting LLC
Anna Eskamani.............Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida
Mary Greene………...President of the Brevard Democratic Disability Caucus
Ghazala Salam………………………..American Muslim Democratic Caucus
State Representative Carlos Smith……………………….State Representative
Event RSVPs
To help us determine attendance, please find the links below to RSVP to each training.
·         Ideas for Action: Janet Reno Challenge Grant Presentations: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ideas-for-action-2017-janet-reno-challenge-grant-presentations-tickets-34913364814
·         Candidate Recruitment Training: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/candidate-recruitment-training-tickets-34890135334
·         How to Talk to Your Neighbors Training: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/how-to-talk-to-your-neighbors-training-tickets-34890284781
·         Our Voice, Our Issues: Panel Discussion on Intersectionality: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/our-voice-our-issues-panel-on-intersectionality-tickets-34890441249
(Please note: Space in all panels, training, and the Gubernatorial forum are provided on a first come, first served basis.)

Two Men Describe Homophobic Torture in Chechnya


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Two men have spoken out about the torture they endured for being gay in Chechnya, where they claim they were beaten, electrocuted and abused by police before fleeing the country. The men, who were granted anonymity over fears of reprisal, gave Reuters accounts of their horrific ordeals at the hands of the authorities. One of the…

Deutch praises FEMA decision to let Coral Springs keep $3 million from Hurricane Wilma Relief


Following the devastation of Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Coral Springs received $24.7 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help cover recovery costs. In 2012, FEMA demanded that the city repays $3 million, claiming the Agency previously overpaid. Coral Springs appealed the decision, and on Tuesday, June 13, FEMA reversed and agreed that Coral Springs would not need to repay the full $3 million.

Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), whose district includes the entire city of Coral Springs, issued this statement:

“It may be over a decade since Hurricane Wilma devastated our community, but the residents of Coral Springs haven’t quickly forgotten the images of debris-filled streets and structurally damaged buildings caused by the storm. The FEMA recovery funds were necessary to quickly return the city to a safe and operational state. Over the course of this lengthy appeal, my office worked with dedicated city officials to finally put this issue behind them. I’m glad this case has finally been resolved in favor of the city’s residents who had to deal with the extensive and lengthy recovery. This decision also provides financial certainty for the city.”

Rep. Deutch Statement on One Year Since Pulse Nightclub Attack


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Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), a Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and the Chair of the LGBT Aging Task Force, issued this statement marking one year since the shooting at the LGBT Pulse nightclub:

“Pride Month is an opportunity for us all to join together to celebrate the remarkable progress made toward LGBT equality. Marriage equality is the law of the land, and cities and states around the country have moved beyond the federal government to extend significant non-discrimination laws to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Pride Month is also a chance for us to remember the immense struggles, heartbreaking losses, and countless tragedies experienced by this community in the fight for equality. Accomplishments made by the LGBT community were not achieved easily. The LGBT community has suffered decades of intolerance, violence, and repression.

“One year ago, dozens of innocent lives were taken in an act of anti-LGBT terrorism in the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history. Guilty of nothing more than celebrating who they are, 49 Pulse victims lost their lives, and more than 50 others were injured in a horrific act of gun violence.

“Hatred and bigotry have no place in our society, and neither do guns in the hands of suspected terrorists. We must act on sensible gun safety legislation; moments of silence alone do nothing to prevent future attacks. And unfortunately, there has been too much silence coming from the halls of Congress.

“After every devastating event, from the Stonewall riots to the Pulse attack, the LGBT community has endured. As a proud LGBT ally honored to represent a vibrant LGBT community in South Florida, I stand with the community in fighting any attempts to legalize discrimination, even as we relentlessly push for full equality once and for all."

House LGBT Caucus Commemorates Tragic Pulse Shooting on One-Year Anniversary



House LGBT Caucus Commemorates Tragic Pulse Shooting on One-Year Anniversary

the Co-Chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus released the following statements in remembrance of last year’s shooting at the historic Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL, in which 49 people were murdered.

“Today, we remember the 49 people killed one year ago at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando,” said Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09). “Our thoughts continue to be with those impacted by this unconscionable and hateful act of terror that targeted the LGBT community. Our community is no stranger to loss and adversity, and from trying times we always emerge stronger. These senseless attacks seek to divide us and instill fear in our communities. We will not let them.”

“The Pulse shooting was driven by unspeakable hate – hate for our community, our values, and a senseless disregard for innocent life,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18).  “Especially today and throughout Pride Month, my heart is in Orlando with the families who lost their loved ones. It’s been a year since the shooting and we’ve made little progress in combating gun violence, terrorism, and anti-LGBTQ hatred – and that has to change.” 

The Pulse Nightclub shooting is the worst mass shooting in recent American history.  The attack occurred in the early morning on June 12, 2016.  On the night of the shooting, Pulse Nightclub was hosting Latin night, a celebration of the large and vibrant Latin American LGBT community in the Orlando area.

“On the one year anniversary of the Pulse massacre, we continue to grieve for the victims of this horrific attack, their loved ones, and everyone impacted by this tragedy,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02).  “The heinous targeting of the LGBT community – especially in a space created for LGBT people to celebrate their identity – was an act of cowardice, and we stand united in solidarity against violence, hatred, and bigotry. This month, LGBT Americans will embody the values of love and acceptance in Pride celebrations across the country and the globe, demonstrating the resilience and strength of our community. Further, I will continue pushing Congress to honor the memories of the 49 individuals lost in the Pulse shooting by taking meaningful action to stop the epidemic of gun violence.”

“Plain and simple, the Orlando shooting was a direct attack on equality, diversity, and freedom,” said Rep. Jared Polis (CO-02).  “It was a painful reminder that when one community is attacked by hate, we are all effected as Americans.  Today, far too many people are being targeted because of who they are, and that runs counter to what the United States is all about. To honor the memory of the victims, we must continue to advocate for love over hate in every regard.”

The 49 people who died in the shooting are Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34; Stanley Almodovar III, 23; Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20; Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22; Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36; Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22; Luis S. Vielma, 22; Kimberly Morris, 37; Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30; Darryl Roman Burt II, 29; Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32; Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21; Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25; Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35; Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50; Amanda Alvear, 25; Martin Benitez Torres, 33; Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37; Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26; Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35; Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25; Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31; Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26; Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25; Miguel Angel Honorato, 30; Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40; Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32; Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19; Cory James Connell, 21; Luis Daniel Conde, 39; Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33; Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25; Jerald Arthur Wright, 31; Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25; Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25; Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24; Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27; Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33; Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49; Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24; Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32; Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28; Frank Hernandez, 27; Paul Terrell Henry, 41; Antonio Davon Brown, 29; Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24; Akyra Monet Murray, 18; and Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25.

One year later, our hearts are still broken for the innocent men and women who lost their lives at Pulse Nightclub. This horrific attack on the LGBT community is still fresh in our minds, and we continue to offer our support to the victims and their loved ones,” said Rep. David Cicilline (RI-01). “This Pride Month, let’s remember the lives that were lost and commit ourselves to achieving justice and full equality in our time. No American should ever feel like they are treated less than equal. It’s on all of us to continue fighting until we make this a reality.”

“The attack at Pulse Nightclub was a horrific hate crime targeting the LGBT community during a month dedicated to the celebration of diversity and equality,” saidRep. Mark Takano (CA-41).  “Today we honor the memories of the 49 people who were murdered that day and we comfort the families and friends who continue grieving. Pride Month is an opportunity to hail our progress toward equal rights and revel in the freedom to be who we are. But it also a time to remember those who have died because they were different– in Orlando, at Stonewall, and in cities and town across the country. We will never forget them.”

LGBT Equality Caucus member Rep. Stephanie Murphy represents much of the Orlando community so affected by the Pulse shooting.

 “This June, we remember the lives lost during the Pulse attack and send our thoughts to their families and to the survivors of that horrific tragedy,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07).  “On this occasion, we honor their memories and reflect on the unity and resilience that Orlando showed in its darkest hour. We owe it to the victims and their families to do everything within our power to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. As Americans, let us recognize Orlando United Day by putting aside that which divides us and rededicating ourselves to treating one another with the love and respect we all deserve. We must forever remain Orlando United and Orlando Strong.”

Please contact LGBT Equality Caucus Executive Director Roddy Flynn at roddy.flynn@mail.house.gov or (202) 257-8416 (cell) with media inquiries.

The mission of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. The bi-partisan LGBT Equality Caucus is strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the U.S. and around the world. By serving as a resource for Members of Congress, their staff, and the public on LGBT issues, the Caucus works toward the extension of equal rights, the repeal of discriminatory laws, the elimination of hate-motivated violence, and the improved health and wellbeing for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.