Dear Members and Advocates,
This past week we have been debating an incident that took place at an LGBTQ community center. The “incident” is not exactly an incident, but the media has blown it completely out of proportion, as if a nuclear bomb had been found buried in a playground. In 1995 “CC” committed a crime for which he is registered as a sexual predator. He completed his sentence and probation. In 2006 got a job as a janitor at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Greater Fort Lauderdale, Inc. (now known as The Pride Center). They knew of CC’s history, they even confirmed with probation that he was ok to work there.
In 2015 The Pride Center installed a playground. In 2018, members of the Center discovered CC’s history and… nuclear bombs! Today, the head of the Center is under attack, members of the gay and lesbian center are criticizing the center’s open-mindedness and policy of acceptance (note the sarcasm) and CC is in jail. No winners.
So when the nuclear dust settles, here’s what we have: CC was working at the center for 9 years (without incident) at the time they put in the playground. CC’s offense predated the Florida registry itself by a couple of years. Should the Center have been forced to fire a loyal employee because they wanted to install a playground? Can the State require that? Is it fair to punish CC because his employer installed a playground? Should CC have been forced out of stable employment (when it’s nearly impossible to find another job) because of the playground that was installed nearly a decade after his employment began and 20 years after his offense?
Here’s what else we have: Nothing happened! CC was a beloved employee, maintaining stable employment and not re-offending for more than 20 years. By all normal accounts this story could have been a success story. One of a man that was able to rehabilitate himself, give back to the community, live a crime-free life. We also have this: The Pride Center is an LGBTQ community center! It wasn’t so long ago that the leadership doesn’t remember the days when gay men were forced out of teaching positions because they were viewed as sexual deviants.
In 1977, Anita Bryant formed a political coalition in Miami, Florida, called “Save our Children”. It was established for the purpose of overturning legislation that banned discrimination in (among other areas) employment based on sexual orientation. Save our Children! Sounds eerily familiar to what The Pride Center is crying out now. Then why does The Pride Center host AA and NA meetings? Have they not read MADD statistics? How can The Pride Center allow anyone with HIV/AIDS to interact with children or use the same facilities as they do?
Can you see where this is going? Irrational fear and myth creates these nuclear bombs and we need to come together to diffuse them. FAC has reached out to The Pride Center. We hope to hear back and open a dialogue.
This past week, FAC also participated in the Florida Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers conference in Orlando. The conference was attended by a couple of our board members and FAC had the opportunity to host an information table and distribute information to hundreds of treatment providers across our state. More than ever, FAC is getting member referrals from treatment providers and, surprisingly, we are also getting referrals from probation officers. Getting our name out there has been critically important to our organization’s growth, which, in turn, contributes to the services we are able to provide and the lawsuits we are able to initiate.
Some other exciting things happened this week, among them; Judge Mark Walker of the Northern District of Florida gave a must read opinion in the voting rights case, as well as several decisions on other jurisdictions which have been posted to our site. Always, check back there for the latest news.
Florida Action Committee
SOME HEADLINES FROM THIS WEEK
“Rather than comply with the requirements of the United States Constitution, Defendants continue to insist they can do whatever they want with hundreds of thousands of Floridians’ voting rights and absolutely zero standards. They ask this Court to stay its prior…
The Eleventh Circuit Federal Appellate Court (our circuit), reversed the conviction of a man who had been charged (and convicted) of distribution of child pornography, but upheld his possession count. The Defendant had been viewing child pornography he had downloaded…
The FBI, which at one point seized and operated one of the largest sites for distribution of Child Porn, Playpen (see here), has seized Backpage.com, the classifieds site that purportedly facilitated sex trafficking and pornography. The CEO of Backpage was also…
InJusticeToday: As Deadline Approaches for Homeless Ex-Offenders in Florida, County Threatens to Jail Them
InJusticeToday A few miles from Miami International Airport, outside of Hialeah, sits a tent camp of about 280 homeless people. There’s no electricity or running water and no bathrooms. News reports describe the stench of human waste and garbage, tents that flood when…