Gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink may be the first casualty of the Caucus’ new approach.  
She’s stumbled in the past when discussing overturning the ban on adoption by GLBT
Floridians, and told the Caucus’ legislative director Michael Emanuel Rajner that GLBT
issues won’t take center stage in her campaign.  It’s unlikely that she’ll get a pass on the
adoption issue, however, especially with a case winding its way through the court process
right now.  As much as Florida needs a Democratic governor, Sink may find herself without
the public support of the sizable GLBT community unless she commits herself publicly to a
blanket repeal of the adoption ban.

The cliché of talking the talk versus walking the walk applies here.  It comes back to
commitment and dedication.  It comes back to accountability.  Sometimes, accountability
means that our friends don’t get a free ride anymore.

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we stood up and demanded accountability from our elected leaders.  

The National Equality March in Washington brought 250,000 individuals to the nation’s
capital to demonstrate for GLBT equality.  Conceived just a few short months ago, the
march grew in momentum and support over the summer.  With one overarching
principle -- “equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states” – the
march’s organizers seek one federal solution to the patchwork of laws governing our
individual rights.

Equality Florida’s Tobias Packer addressed the rally on the Capitol steps that followed
the march.  He describes himself as “a transgender person who was born and lives
and works in a red state in the South,” and who has suffered discrimination.  Here’s
his message:

“My wish for this march is that we all recommit to stepping beyond our comfort zone.  
Recommit our time, talent and treasure to this fight for full equality under the law all
across America.  And it begins here today.  It begins now.”

That sentiment underlined the debate surrounding President Obama’s address to the
Human Rights Campaign, which occurred the night before the march.  The President
was roundly applauded for showing up at the event in his first year in office and for
giving a great speech.  But he was also roundly criticized for basically repeating his
campaign pledges without an accompanying timetable for action on significant issues
like repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act.  

The President had the HRC crowd on their feet several times, but honestly, that’s
nothing new; he’s an inspirational speaker.  But as the first African American         
commander in chief he’s also an international symbol of freedom
                 and equality, as he often notes.  And that’s what makes his
                 remarks to the black-tie crowd at HRC ring hollow.  Yes, he’s
                 done more for GLBT issues and rights than the previous
                 administration (and that in itself is not saying much), but he  OCTOBER | OCTUBRE 2009

By Stephen Gaskill

“Accountability” is a strong word.  It implies commitment and dedication.  It’s a
demanding word.

The GLBT community is now demanding accountability from its political leaders.  As a
significant voting bloc in Florida, we’ve worked hard for political candidates – raising
and giving money, volunteering time and energy, and offering support and advice.  We’
ve elected presidents, city commissioners and everything in between.  

In exchange for that support, we’ve expected movement on issues that impact our
community and our lives.  We’ve accepted at face value our elected officials’ insistence
that they’re with us, they’re backing us, and they’ll get to our issues in time.

Now is the time.

October 2009 may become a turning point for the GLBT movement.  It’s when

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hasn’t used the power of his office to lead Congress on our issues.  

GLBT activist Hilary Rosen defended the President on CNN after his speech, cautioning that
the legislative process takes time.  For instance, she noted that the Hate Crimes bill,
named for Matthew Shepard, has taken 10 years to get out of Congress.  But her point that
timing is everything where legislation is concerned in undercut by the fact that Democrats
hold a commanding dominance in both houses of Congress, something that may not be
the case after the next election.  That augers for faster movement and action on supposed
“contentious” GLBT issues.

It’s that approach that is now driving the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus, who met at the
Florida Democratic Convention in Orlando the same weekend as the march.  The Caucus
received an award from the Florida Democratic Party for its organization, skill, and
dedication to the Party.  But it also has reached a new plateau in its dealings with
Democratic candidates.

After years of working to elect Democrats at all levels, the Caucus this year has put them on
notice that there’s a threshold of activity expected on our issues in exchange for our
support.  The Caucus is getting candidates on record on their commitment on issues
ranging from co-sponsoring and “actively” supporting legislation to repeal the ban on
adoption by GLBT Floridians, to providing full equality in employment and housing for GLBT
Floridians, and to requiring comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education in public

Caucus president Michael Albetta recognizes some candidates might not be on the radar
screen this cycle because of their reluctance to publicly declare their level of commitment.  

“We’re going to focus on candidates who will work for us as hard as we’ve worked for
them,” he said.  “Our members have the experience, knowledge and funds to be a
significant benefit to a campaign, but the days of hoping we’ll get legislation in exchange for
our work are over.  Our message is simple – tell us exactly what you’re going to do for us.”