Miami Beach Tops Nation in LGBT Equality Report, Hialeah Not So Much

It was a historic day for equal rights in Miami-Dade yesterday, as the county commission moved one step closer to adding transgendered residents to anti-discrimination laws. But it's the city across Biscayne Bay from County Hall that took home the area's highest honors for LGBT equality in the latest national survey from the Human Rights Campaign.

Miami Beach earned a perfect score from the advocacy group. Other South Florida towns -- especially Hialeah -- didn't fare quite so well.

See also: Preservationists Cry Foul as County Commission Considers Allowing Cities More Autonomy

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Gay Marriage Cases Won't Jump Directly to Florida Supreme Court

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The fate of Florida's gay marriage ban won't jump directly to Florida's Supreme Court. The Third District Court of Appeal denied Attorney General Pam Bondi's request to have the case bypass the lower courts and has decided to rule on the matter itself.

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Gay Rights Battle Heats Up in Doral With Mysterious Fliers, Public Hearing Tonight

Last month, when the City Council of Doral unanimously approved a plan to extend benefits to domestic partners of city employees -- becoming the seventh Miami-Dade County to do so -- the move was hailed by activists and city leaders.

But the council's decision has also sparked strong opposition. In the last few weeks, mailers have been bombarding the city excoriating the benefits plan and urging protest. "Marriage benefits = Married employees only! the fliers read. "The Doral City Council wants to force YOU to pay with your money for "marriage" benefits to all "domestic partners."

See also: What the Supreme Court's Move on Gay Marriage Means for Florida

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What the Supreme Court's Move on Gay Marriage Means for Florida

It seems a bit strange that gay couples in Moab, Utah; and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, are now free to marry, while LGBT citizens in gay meccas like South Beach, Wilton Manors, and Key West are still forbidden to even enter a civil union. But the path toward progress doesn't always make sense.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to turn away multiple gay marriage cases without comment this morning doesn't directly effect Florida, it makes Attorney General Pam Bondi's quest to keep Florida's gay marriage ban in place look like a fool's errand.

See also: Appeals Court Denies Pam Bondi's Motion to Stay Gay Marriage Cases

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Miami-Dade County Commission Likely To Advance Transgender Protections Today

In Miami-Dade, transgender residents today have zero legal protection against being fired or discriminated against by their county government. That incredible fact remains true in 2014 largely because of one county commissioner and one conservative group hell-bent on keeping that basic human protection off the books.

Well, with that right-wing commissioner -- Lynda Bell -- now on the way out of County Hall after an electoral defeat last month, the County Commission will try again today to get the ball rolling on a transgender protection clause.

Update: The commission passed the transgendered protection this afternoon. It will now head to committee for a second vote.

See also: The Shiny, Happy Faces of Transgender Discrimination in Miami-Dade County

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Appeals Court Denies Pam Bondi's Motion to Stay Gay Marriage Cases

Today, the Third District Court of Appeal in Miami denied a motion by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to freeze the marriage equality cases in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties from advancing through the court system.

"The Third District Court denied her the motion to stay briefings, which was seen as a delaying tactic to slow or stop the case for marriage equality from going forward in Florida," said Mark Ebenhoch, the media director for Aaron Huntsman and William "Lee" Jones, one of the South Florida couples challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

See also: Gay Marriage Question One Step Closer to the Florida Supreme Court

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Florida Supreme Court Will Rule on Gay Marriage

In an unusual move, the Florida Supreme Court justices today decided to rule on case involving the state's same-sex marriage ban, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The case will skip the traditional appeal process after the Second District Court of Appeal directly asked the Florida Supreme Court to take on the case due to "great public importance."

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Pam Bondi on Keeping Gay Marriage Illegal: "I am Just Getting Started"

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Apparently there are some people out there who don't think Attorney General Pam Bondi is doing a good enough job defending Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, which a federal jude just ruled yesterday was unconstitutional and will be scene in the near future as "an obvious pretext for discrimination."

Well, just hours after the ruling, Bondi took a pledge before gay marriage opponents and promised that she's just getting started in her fight to upkeep the ban.

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Federal Judge Rules Florida's Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional; Immediately Stays Decision

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U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled today that Florida's gay marriage ban violates the 14th Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process. The federal judge's ruling follows similar rulings by state judges in four counties. However, like those rulings, Hinkle immediately stayed his decision.

Thus, same-sex couples in Florida will still have to wait for further court decisions before getting their marriage licenses.

See also: Same-Sex Marriage Could Give $182.2 Million Boost to Florida's Economy

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Same-Sex Marriage Could Give $182.2 Million Boost to Florida's Economy

Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is chiefly a civil rights issue, but it's also an economic issue.

A new analysis by the UCLA School of Law's William Institute estimates Florida could see a $182.2 million boost to its economy if gay marriage were legalized -- and that's just in the first three years alone. That translates to roughly $12.2 million in taxes for the state and local governments.

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