Pensacola, Florida
Thursday October 23rd 2014

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The Buzz 3/20/14

Lawsuit Seeks Rights For Same-Sex Couple Two Pensacola women are among the eight same-sex Florida couples who legally married elsewhere in the United States and have filed suit in federal court to demand that Florida recognize their unions.

Lindsay Myers and Sarah Humlie were married in Washington, D.C., in December 2012. Lindsay has a master’s degree in theology and works for the University of West Florida as a digital content producer for WUWF. Sarah is the Executive Director of the Pensacola Humane Society.

Sarah does not receive health insurance through her employer, and because Lindsay is not permitted to have Sarah on her health insurance plan because of Florida’s discriminatory ban on recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples, the couple must pay hundreds of dollars per month for private health insurance for Sarah.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Florida filed the lawsuit in Tallahassee on behalf of the couples and SAVE, an LGBT rights organization based in South Florida. The lawsuit seeks an injunction directing the state to recognize same-sex marriages that took place in other states and alleges violation of due-process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Surgeon General and Health Secretary John Armstrong and Department of Management Services Secretary Craig Nichols are named as defendants.

“Each of these couples has their own story of how the state’s discriminatory refusal to recognize their marriages has impacted their lives,” stated Daniel Tilley, LGBT rights attorney for the ACLU of Florida. “These eight couples have all the rights and responsibilities of marriage in the states where they exchanged vows, and the federal government recognizes their marriages as well. It’s time for Florida to stop the harmful practice of treating committed couples as if they are strangers.”

IN Poll: Northwest Florida Supports Medical Pot Nearly half of Northwest Florida voters support medical marijuana, according to a recent poll by the Independent News.

On March 9-10, the paper conducted an Interactive Voice Response poll concerning the issue regarding the medical use of marijuana and the opinions of voters in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay counties. Three hundred ninety-nine phone surveys were completed and the results had a margin of error of +/- 4.43 percent.

Even in conservative Northwest Florida, 47 percent favor the legalization of medical marijuana with 15 percent being unsure and only 38 percent being against.

In the 2014 general election in November, Florida voters will vote on a constitutional amendment that would allow the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Opponents may not be able to count on the panhandle for votes against it.

Breaking down the support by county, Escambia and Walton both had over half in support of medical use with Escambia having 53 percent and Walton having 52 percent support. In Santa Rosa County, 45 percent of the respondents favored it, followed by Okaloosa County with 42 percent and Bay County with 38 percent.

There was little difference between the Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials in how they responded. They were within two percentage points when it came to supporting medical marijuana. The 18-29 age group had 56 percent in favor and the 46-64 age group had 54 percent.

New Downtown YMCA Moves Ahead The YMCA of Northwest Florida has completed its land deal with the Quint and Rishy Studer and had named the architects for the project.

The Studers contributed a one-acre parcel of land, valued at about $1 million, on the southwest corner of Tarragona and Intendencia streets to be the site for the new downtown Pensacola facility. The Studers made the donation in addition to their $5 million contributed toward construction of the facility.

The YMCA has selected local architectural firm Bay Design Associates as the architect for the project. Bay Design will partner with the national design firm of Reynolds, Smith & Hill, which has designed over 20 new and redeveloped YMCA facilities. The groundbreaking is being planned for late 2014.