Aramis Did It Right: My Latest in the Orlando Sentinel

Aramis Did It Right: My Latest in the Orlando Sentinel

The video of State Attorney Aramis Ayala being stopped by police has gone viral.
This shouldn’t be surprising: Ayala is the first African-American state attorney in Florida, and she is experiencing heightened scrutiny for her stance on the death penalty. Ayala is currently in a legal battle with Florida’s governor who, after she made her stance public, reassigned close to two dozen of her death-penalty-eligible homicide cases to another state attorney.

Read the rest here

Love is Love: Remembering Pulse & Loving

Love is Love: Remembering Pulse & Loving

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June 12 has become a very significant day.  Today is the 50th anniversary of the landmark case Loving vs. Virginia.  It is also the one year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, where 49 innocent lives were lost.

Both are very closely intertwined.  On June 12, 1967, the ruling by the Supreme Court in Loving vs. Virginia allowed couples of different races to marry — striking down the slavery era prohibitions to such unions.  This case was used as the foundation of the case that allowed gays to marry. That freedom to love and to be happy was attacked by a lone gunman on June 12, 2016.

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Iconic photo of Richard and Mildred Loving that originally appeared in Life Magazine

As I reflect on the significance of this day, I mourn the lives that were lost simply because of who they are or who they love. Interracial couples still face hurdles as well as racism (even though 1 in 10 couples in America are interracial).

I think about the rise in hate crimes under this current administration, and pray that the strong minded among us will join me in the fight against hate in all forms.

Evil flourishes when good people stand by and do nothing.

Please see my pieces — on being part of an interracial couple in “Love Winshere; my tribute to the Lovings here; and my reaction one year ago to the Pulse shooting in “It Could Have Been Mehere.

In solidarity,

M.

Nightclub Shooting Victims
Remembering the 49 lives tragically lost at Pulse Nightclub
HuffPo: 1st African American Head Prosecutor in Florida Wrongfully Removed

HuffPo: 1st African American Head Prosecutor in Florida Wrongfully Removed

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Yesterday, Florida Governor Rick Scott overstepped his boundaries by removing Florida 9th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Aramis Ayala from handling the Markeith Loyd murder case for her refusal to seek the death penalty. The defendant has been charged with the Orlando murders of his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon, and Orlando Police Lieutenant Debra Clayton.

State Attorney Ayala explained her decision, stating that she was no longer seeking the death penalty in any of her cases, because “Florida’s death penalty has been the cause of considerable legal chaos, uncertainty and turmoil.” She further said capital punishment often leads to years of appeals and other court hearings, and that it costs more than a life sentence. Florida law gives every state attorney the discretion on whether or not to seek the death penalty.

Ms. Ayala holds the distinction of being the first African American state attorney in the state of Florida. Elected in November 2016, she assumed office at the beginning of this year. In her short time in office, she now also holds the distinction of being the only prosecutor removed in this fashion by this governor.

 

Read more here

It could have been me…

It could have been me…

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It could have been me. 

Yesterday, as I watched the reports of the carnage of the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, I realized…

It could have been me. 

I have spent countless nights with my gay friends dancing at similar clubs. From my college days in Greenwich Village to the early days of South Beach, I celebrated, frolicked and bonded with my friends of all backgrounds. Lifelong friendships and permanent memories were shared in these venues. I found the amazing woman who would be my wedding DJ at a gay establishment. I helped my friends prep for drag shows, and learned how to strut in 5 inch heels.

The thing I loved the most at gay clubs was while bouncers were present, metal detectors were not…there was no need! There were no fights, no foolishness. Just great music and tons of love. As a woman I always felt safe. Not only was I accepted for who I was, with no interest in my bank account, background or body attributes, I was physically safe. I can rest assured that there were no predators waiting to rape or rob me.

I am heartbroken and angry. But we will not be broken. The purpose of terrorism is to make people afraid to live their lives. We are better than that.

In these coming days, we must let law enforcement develop the full picture of who this hateful individual is, and then take steps within our Constitution to make sure this does not happen again. I reiterate within our Constitution, because it is easy to move away from our basic tenets in times of fear.  As Thomas Jefferson, one of the framers of the Constitution stated,

“Whatever be the Constitution, great care must be taken to provide a mode of amendment when experience or change of circumstances shall have manifested that any part of it is unadapted to the good of the nation. In some of our States it requires a new authority from the whole people, acting by their representatives, chosen for this express purpose, and assembled in convention. This is found too difficult for remedying the imperfections which experience develops from time to time in an organization of the first impression. A greater facility of amendment is certainly requisite to maintain it in a course of action accommodated to the times and changes through which we are ever passing.” –Thomas Jefferson to A. Coray, 1823. ME 15:488

In the meantime, send your positive thoughts and energy to entire community that is in pain. I put this on my Facebook page yesterday because I was in negativity overload.

I’m so disgusted. Not just by the actions of the cowardly shooter in Orlando, but on the posts I’m seeing in my feed.  “We have to shut down the borders”, “these Muslims”, and my favorite “Obama, Hillary and Bernie are at fault, Trump is the answer”.  Really?? Let’s recap.  We are still finding out information.  We know that the shooter is a HOME GROWN US Citizen.  We know he was homophobic. We know that 50 are dead, 42 are injured, and that number will increase.  That is over 100 people directly affected, thousands who will be next of kin grieving the loss of a loved one, and more who will be caretakers to the injured. There is a community that has lost their sense of peace. Can we stop the politics for ONE DAY and realize that this is the time to come together and HELP?! Before you use this as an opportunity to say nasty things, maybe figure out how to donate money for the unexpected funerals and medical costs.  Donate blood, the hospitals are in desperate need.  Don’t worry, you can go back to debating politics later, we have until November.  But the people of Orlando NEED US NOW!! #OrlandoShooting

If you really want to help (and not pontificate), here’s how:

The hospitals need blood. OneBlood.org will give you further information in order to donate, or call 1.888.936.6283. Due to ridiculously antiquated perceptions on gays and HIV, gays have been turned away from donating blood, so everyone else needs to step up!! O+ is especially needed.

Equality Florida, a LGBTQ organization, has set up a Go Fund Me page for the victims. Click here to donate. It is refreshing to know that over $1.3 million dollars has been raised by this campaign in the last 22 hours…but more is needed.

#OrlandoStrong #StrongerTogether #OneLove

M.

Mean Girls UPDATE

Mean Girls UPDATE

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In an update from an earlier post regarding the death of Rebecca Ann Sedwick as a result of bullying….the girls accused of driving the young girl to suicide no longer face criminal charges.  The girls don’t seem to remotely remorseful either. Weigh in on your thoughts!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/21/rebecca-sedwick-charges_n_4315761.html

See my original article here on my blog or via this link:

http://news.thelaw.tv/2013/10/18/mean-girls-or-killers-the-growing-problem-of-cyber-stalking/