Jungwirth arrested over the holiday weekend

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 3.52.03 PM

Craig Jungwirth

The man who set the south central Florida LGBT community on edge by posting threats on Facebook that he would stage an attack that would make the June 12 shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando look tame has been arrested.

Peacock Panache, an LGBT blog, reports that a Broward County judge held an emergency hearing Saturday, Sept. 3, to issue an arrest warrant for Craig Jungwirth, 50. Jungwirth’s attorney said his client lives in Orange County and didn’t have time to get to the hearing, and Jungwirth was arrested for driving with a suspended license by troopers in Osceola County.

Jungwirth faces charges for violating conditions on a bond stemming from a 2014 incident in which he allegedly defrauded a Wilton Manors innkeeper by refusing to pay his bill for food and drinks, and from an incident in May in which he is accused of damaging windows a Rumors Bar & Grill, a gay bar in Wilton Manors. The judge said that the bond violations coupled with the failure to appear in court Saturday and the “escalating  concerns of public safety” provided grounds for the arrest warrant.

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is also investigating the Pulse shooting, began investigating threats Jungwirth posted on Facebook on Aug. 30, the day the threats were reported.

Jungwirth, who recently has been accused of taking over Florida’s Beach Bear Weekend and using it to scam money for the LGBT community, reportedly has a lengthy criminal history that includes numerous restraining orders filed against him. On Aug. 30, he posted several threatening comments to David Herbert’s Facebook page, including this one: “My events are selling out cause you faggots are total patsies. None of you deserve to live. If you losers thought the Pulse nightclub shooting was bad, wait till you see what I’m planning for Labor Day.”

He also said that since gay men “aren’t dying from AIDS anymore, I have a better solution to exterminate you losers,” and, “I’m gonna be killing you fags faster than cops kill niggers. It’s time to clean up Wilton Manors from all you AIDS infested losers.”

The FBI is urging anyone victimized by Jungwirth to contact them immediately at 754-703-2000.

—  Tammye Nash

S. Florida man threatens to attack to ‘exterminate’ gay men

jungwirthSouth Florida’s LGBT community — and law enforcement — are on high alert this week after a local man posted numerous threats against LGBT people on Instagram, claiming that what he is “planning for Labor Day” will be worse than the June 12 mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

The shooting at Pulse left 49 victims and the shooter dead, and another 53 people wounded. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Impulse South Florida, the local chapter of the national volunteer HIV/AIDS education and advocacy organization, on Tuesday, Aug. 30, posted screen captures of Craig Jungwirth’s posts on Instagram from that same day, along with a photo of Jungwirth himself (see above) and a warning to be on the look out for him.

In the posts, which appear to be part of a conversation with a man named David Herbert, Jungwirth says, “My events are selling out cause you faggots are total patsies. None of you deserve to live. If you losers thought the Pulse nightclub shooting was bad, wait till you see what I’m planning for Labor Day.”

When Herbert replies that Jungwirth is “fucking crazy” and that he is calling police, Jungwirth continues, “You can never catch a genius from MIT and since you faggots are dying from AIDS anymore, I have a better solution to exterminate you losers. …

“I’m gonna be killing you fags faster than cops kill niggers. It’s time to clean up Wilton Manors from all you AIDS infested losers.”

In posting the screen caps to the Impulse South Florida Facebook page, representatives of the organization said Jungwirth has made other “extreme posts” on Instagram, and that he “has been known to be in Wilton Manors and Orlando.” Wilton Manors is located just north of Fort Lauderdale.

In a statement to Dallas Voice on Wednesday, Aug. 31, via Impulse Dallas representative Erik Vasquez, Impulse United Vice President and Impulse South Florida representative A.J. Alegria said, “All local law enforcement has been notified and are working on [Jungwirth]. Our close friend is the captain of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. He has been communicating with use. We have been directing everyone to law enforcement. The FBI has also been notified.”

LGBT media in the South Florida area earlier this year — including Peacock Panache and South Florida Gay News — outed Jungwirth as a scam artist, noting that he had taken over the Beach Bear Weekend event in Florida and used it to scam money from the LGBT community. As Tim Peacock with Peacock Panache reported, “What began as a story of his harassment of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence exploded after information surfaced that not only were the events listed for his Beach Bear Weekend event fake but also all hotel bookings through the event website didn’t actually reserve local hotels.”

Peacock said that after he published stories about that situation, Jungwirth “embarked on a harassment campaign” against Peacock Panache and its writers, sent harassing text messages, left “vaguely threatening voice mails,” left spam and threats on the Peacock Panache’s social media pages and comments sections and “even attempted to hack our server several times to access the articles written about him.”

NBC 6 News out of Miami reports that Jungwirth “has a lengthy criminal history which includes stalking charges,” and “a handful of restraining orders” against him. The TV station also said Facebook has deleted Jungwirth’s profile.

Dallas Voice has contacted police departments in both Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale for information and we are awaiting their responses. But NBC 6 says police departments in the area — and the LGBT community — are taking the threats seriously. You can watch NBC 6’s report below.

—  Tammye Nash

Florida Senate votes to repeal gay adoption ban

Screen shot 2015-04-14 at 12.54.40 PM

Sen. Don Gaetz

Although Florida’s ban on adoptions by same-sex couples has been officially lifted since 2010, the law remains on the books, so to speak, since lawmakers never actually repealed it. That changed today (Tuesday, April 14).

The Florida Senate today gave final approval to a bill primarily intended to help more foster children find permanent homes, but which also removes the ban on adoption by same-sex couples.

Nadine Smith, chief executive of Equality Florida praised the bipartisan vote as a “symbolic action [that will] finally move our state past its Anita Bryant era of discrimination and intolerance.

Smith said that former Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Destin, helped clinch the deal with his “eloquent” arguments urging lawmakers not to be swayed by arguments that the bill might go against the religious principles of some private, taxpayer-supported adoption agencies.

Gaetz, a Lutheran, pointed out that his denomination, which does not discriminate against same-sex couples as prospective adoptive parents, placed 183 children in adoptive homes last year. That’s “more than three times as many” adopted through the Lutheran agencies as through the Baptist and Catholic agencies that refuse to place children with same-sex couples. “So I ask you today to follow the law,” Gaetz said. “Follow the law that says we don’t discriminate. Follow the law that says we’re going to give these [children waiting for adoption] the best chance we can.”

Watch Gaetz’s closing arguments below.

The bill has already been approved by the House of Representatives and now goes to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature.

The ban dates back to 1977 when right-wing singer Anita Bryant launched her “Save Our Children” campaign. It survived several court challenges and even was upheld by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004. It was overturned in 2010 when a state appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that the ban violated the Florida state constitution, and the governor and attorney general chose not to appeal further.

—  Tammye Nash

Florida House committee approves anti-LGBT adoption bill

Even as the Indiana Legislature begins consideration of an amendment to its recently approved Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would bar discrimination by private businesses based on a number of factors, including sexual orientation and gender identity, Equality Florida is reporting that anti-gay legislation is making headway in the Sunshine State.

You’d think that the massive backlash over Indiana’s anti-gay RFRA that has sent lawmakers there scrambling into damage control mode and convinced Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to change his mind about signing a similar bill in his state might make lawmakers elsewhere think twice, too.

But not in Florida, apparently. They ain’t gonna be skeered off in Florida.

According to an Equality Florida press statement released this afternoon (Thursday, April 2), the Florida House Judiciary Committee has Screen shot 2015-04-02 at 4.13.50 PMpassed an adoption bill that would allow discrimination against prospective LGBT parents “and places childrebn seeking a permanent home at continued risk.”

“This is Indiana-style legalized discrimination, plain and simple,” Equality Florida Public Policy Specialist Carlos Guillermo Smith declared in the statement. “But it’s even worse because this promotes state-sanctioned and taxpayer-funded discrimination.”

Smith, saying that lawmakers know the bill is “as indefensible as it is unnecessary,” said the new measure would allow any private adoption agency — either secular or religious — to discriminate against prospective parents based on sexual orientation, gender identity, family status and religious or political beliefs.

“One of the cruelest measures embedded in the bill would allow agencies to refuse to place foster children with members of their extended families based on their marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion,” the Equality Florida statement says. “A loving, unmarried grandparent, for example, or a stable, welcoming relative of a different faith could be deemed unsuitable under the proposed law.”

Smith noted that Florida already has an Religious Freedom Restoration Act in place that allows faith-based organizations to factor in religious beliefs when offering adoption and other services. The new bill, he added, “strips prospective parents of legal recourse if they’ve been discriminated against, and prohibits the state from withholding taxpayer money from discriminatory agencies.”

Ellen Kahn, director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Children, Youth and Families Program, also condemned in the new bill, saying it “flies in the face of our responsibility to find permanent families and safe, loving homes for every child.”

 

—  Tammye Nash

Putting a price on equality

Screen shot 2015-03-25 at 12.53.24 PM

A new report released today (Wednesday, March 25) by Equality Means Business, a coalition of major employers in Florida, claims that anti-LGBT policies and laws costs employers in the state more than $362 million a year.

The report includes interviews with a number of top executives from national companies based in Florida and it links business leaders’ concerns over the state’s ability to compete with hard dollar losses in productivity and employee turnover, according to a statement from Equality Florida.

Other key findings include:

• Business executives cite Florida’s reputation as being hostile to diversity among their chief challenges in attracting and retaining talent.

• More than 60 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual employees and more than 80 percent of transgender employees in Florida report having experienced discrimination in the workplace.

• Top executives recognize that the top talent among the Millenials generation values diversity and inclusion, making nondiscrimination protections a must-have.

Many of the business executives intervewed said they believe their businesses actually suffered because of Florida’s reputation for being hostile to LGBTs and others. And most of those participating said they see non-discrimination protections as non-negotiable, common sense practices critical to attracting and attaining the best and the brightest employees.

Nadine Smith, co-founder and CEO of Equality Florida, which convened the Equality Means Business coalition, said the report shows that it is “clearly in the state’s interest to provide equal protection for all employees.”

There is a new, similar organization getting off the ground here in the Lone Star State, called Texas Competes, a “partnership of business leaders committed to a Texas that is economically vibrant and welcoming of all people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

The purpose of Texas Competes is to prove that “fair treatment for gay and transgender people isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good for businesses, too.”

That’s a very important lesson that the Texas Legislature needs to learn, considering all the truly nasty anti-LGBT bills lawmakers are currently considering in Austin.

—  Tammye Nash

Florida House votes to remove gay and lesbian adoption ban

Rick Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott

Florida was one of the few places that has an outright ban on adoption by gays and lesbians. Now the Florida House has passed a bill to remove that language, which was added in 1977, according to Associated Press.

The ban on gay and lesbian adoption was declared unconstitutional five years ago, and gays and lesbians have been allowed to adopt since then. This would simply clean up the state law, although the legislature had been reluctant to do so in the past.

No Republicans spoke against the amendment, although some voted against it. Some said they didn’t support adoption by gays and lesbians, but were voting for the amendment so the law reflected court rulings and policy.

In Texas, the state sodomy law has been unconstitutional since the 2003 Lawrence v Texas decision. Each legislative session since then, a bill to remove language that has been declared unconstitutional has failed to pass the Texas Legislature, so the law doesn’t reflect actual policy or court rulings.

People have been detained based on the unconstitutional law since then.

In the case of unconstitutional laws remaining on the books, misreading the Florida adoption law could delay an adoption and increase costs for no reason other than bigotry against those trying to adopt.

The bill still has to pass the Florida Senate and be signed by anti-gay Gov. Rick Scott.

—  David Taffet

MORONS MAKE LAWS: Fla. Dept. Environmental Protection not allowed to say ‘climate change’

Rick Scott

Fla. Gov. Rick Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office declined comment, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s press secretary claims there was no policy on it. But according to four former employees, the department did, indeed, have in place a policy prohibiting use the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in official communications, emails or reports, according to the Miami Herald.

The policy went into effect soon after Scott was first elected to office four years ago. He was re-elected in 2014.

Florida is the state most susceptible to the effects of global warming. In all predictions of rising ocean levels caused by melting polar ice, Florida completely disappears under water.

At the tip of Florida, Key West’s highest point is three feet above sea level. Britton Hill, at 345 feet above sea level and located in the panhandle on the Georgia border, is the lowest high point of any of the 50 states.

—  David Taffet

11th Circuit court puts Florida appeals on hold

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals today put appeals of two Florida marriage equality rulings on hold pending the outcome of upcoming hearings gavelbefore the U.S. Supreme Court on similar marriage equality cases appealed from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals:

“Pursuant to the court’s direction, the appeals …  are held in abeyance pending the United States Supreme Court’s issuance of an opinion in DeBoer v. Snyder … . Any other current or future appeals that are filed in this court raising the same or similar issues as the appeals listed above will also be held in abeyance pending the Supreme Court’s issuance of an opinion in DeBoer v. Snyder. Within twenty-one (21) days of the date the Supreme Court issues its opinion in DeBoer v. Snyder, the parties are directed to notify this court in writing what issues, if any, remain pending in these appeals.”

Same-sex marriages began in Florida on Jan. 5 when Miami Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel lifted the stay she had imposed on her earlier ruling in state court striking down Florida’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Zabel lifted the stay on her ruling the day before the stay on a federal district court case ruling that also declared the ban unconstitutional was to have expired. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi had asked  U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to extend the stay on U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling, but Thomas refused.

In October, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals on marriage cases from other federal circuit courts, all of whom had ruled in favor of marriage equality. In January, the Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals on four marriage equality cases out of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, the only federal appellate court to rule against marriage equality since the Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision in U.S. v Windsor striking down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hold hearings on the 6th Circuit causes in April and to deliver a decision in June.

—  Tammye Nash

Congrats to Amy and Kelly — and all the other Florida newlyweds

Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 4.52.15 PM

Florida newlyweds Amy and Kelly

My friends Amy and Kelly were among the 30 Florida couples tapped to receive their marriage license immediately after midnight Jan. 5 — so, on Jan. 6 — when the stay expired on Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling declaring the Florida marriage equality ban unconstitutional. Because of legal wrangling over to whom Hinkle’s order applied, the Orlando county clerk guaranteed only 30 marriage licenses at first.

As it turned out, the stay on a second pro-marriage-equality ruling was lifted on Jan. 5, and Hinkle issued an order making it clear that his ruling applied to everyone in every Florida county. So Amy and Kelly and the other 29 couples were not the first to get their licenses and exchange vows. But that didn’t make their ceremony any less touching and wonderful.

The CENTER — LGBT Community Center of Central Florida hosted a wedding for the 30 couples getting their licenses Jan. 6 in Orlando, and as Amy said on Facebook, she and Kelly never expected to be able to get married in such style. She has given me permission to share this photo of them, above, and this video, below, of the mass wedding. In the video, Amy and Kelly are the first couple in the procession, and they are both wearing white.

So congrats, Amy and Kelly, and all the other happy couples in Florida. I can’t wait til Texas gets on the bandwagon and my spouse and I get to make it legal.

—  Tammye Nash

First Florida marriage license issued; couples marrying now

plaintiffs

Plaintiff couples in Pareto v. Ruvin are, from left, Todd and Jeffrey Delmay, Cathy Pareto and Karla Arguello, Vanessa and Melanie Alenier, and Don Johnston and Jorge Diaz. Pareto and Arguello received the first marriage license issued to a same-sex couple in Florida.

Karla Arguello and Cathy Pareto, one of six plaintiff couples in the marriage equality case Pareto v. Ruvin, today became the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Florida.

The two applied for the license this morning (Monday, Jan. 5), as soon as Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel lifted her stay of her own ruling in the case, in which she declared the Florida marriage equality ban unconstitutional.

Judge Zabel has agreed to marry the plaintiff couples who wish to marry today, including Arguello and Pareto, and Jeff and Todd Delmay.

The plaintiffs in the case are represented by the law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Elizabeth F. Schwartz, Mary B. Meeks, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

—  Tammye Nash