Equality Florida Hosts LGBTQ #BlackLivesMatter Town Hall on June 3 at 6 PM
Equality Florida Convenes LGBTQ #BlackLivesMatter Town Hall; Black LGBTQ Leaders Speak Out To Combat Racial Violence
ST PETERSBURG, FL - In response to a rash of attacks that have claimed Black lives, including the brutal killing of George Floyd by white police officers in Minneapolis, Equality Florida will host a virtual town hall with Black LGBTQ leaders on Wednesday, June 3 at 6:00 PM ET. The event will be live-streamed on Equality Florida’s Facebook Page and YouTube channel. Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex customers can watch the Town Hall by simply saying “Pride” into their remote.
Nadine Smith, Equality Florida Executive Director, will moderate the conversation and be joined by Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President; Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis City Council Vice President; Michele Rayner, Civil Rights Attorney who represented the McGlockton family following the murder of Markeis; and Imani Rupert-Gordon, National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director.
The Town Hall comes as more than 400 LGBTQ organizations from across the country have signed onto a letter condemning racial violence and committing to the fight against it.
Equality Florida's Nadine Smith who issued the call for a national statement noted the apt timing as Pride celebration commemorating the Stonewall rebellion when LGBTQ people took to the streets to fight back and demand justice.
“The LGBTQ community knows about the work of resisting police brutality and hate violence,” said Smith. “We understand what it means to stand up and push back against a culture that tells us we are less than, that our lives don't matter. Today, we stand up again to say Black Lives Matter."
In a show of unity, over 400 LGBTQ organizations from across the country have signed onto a letter condemning racial violence and committing to the fight against white supremacy. What action that commitment requires will be the topic of a town hall discussion featuring Black LGBTQ leaders from across the country.
The statement, signed by leaders of national, state and local LGBTQ organizations, calls on the LGBTQ movement to make anti-racism a core part of their collective work:
“The LGBTQ Movement’s work has earned significant victories in expanding the civil rights of LGBTQ people. But what good are civil rights without the freedom to enjoy them?
Many of our organizations have made progress in adopting intersectionality as a core value and have committed to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. But this moment requires that we go further — that we make explicit commitments to embrace anti-racism and end white supremacy, not as necessary corollaries to our mission, but as integral to the objective of full equality for LGBTQ people.” - excerpt from an Open Letter: LGBTQ Organizations Unite to Combat Racial Violence
This dialogue also comes on the heels of the murders of seven black transgender women in Florida in less than two years, the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery by white vigilantes in Georgia, and the weaponizing of race by a white woman against Christian Cooper, a black, gay man birdwatching in Central Park, and the disturbing questions raised in the police shooting death of Tony McDade, a Black transman in Tallahassee days ago - all stark reminders of the need for LGBTQ movement leaders to speak out against the systemic racism and hate violence claiming Black lives.
Nadine Smith is the Executive Director of Equality Florida, the state's largest organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
An award-winning journalist turned organizer, Nadine was one of four national co-chairs of the 1993 March on Washington. She was part of the historic meeting between then - President Clinton - the first Oval Office meeting between a sitting President and gay community leaders. She served on the founding board of the International Gay and Lesbian Youth Organization. She is s a Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee and served on President Obama's National Finance Committee.
Nadine has been named one of the state's "Most Powerful and Influential Women" by the Florida Diversity Council. She has received the League of Women Voter's Woman of Distinction Award and in 2018 was named one of the 100 Most Influential Floridians by Influence Magazine. She currently serves as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Florida Advisory Committee.
She lives in St. Petersburg with her wife Andrea and son Logan.
Alphonso B. David, an accomplished and nationally recognized LGBTQ civil rights lawyer and advocate, is the president of the Human Rights Campaign. Mr. David is the first civil rights lawyer and the first person of color to serve as president of HRC in the organization’s nearly 40-year history.
Mr. David has significant litigation and management experience in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. He has been at the forefront of the movement for LGBTQ equality for more than a decade and worked at both the state and national level.
In 2015, Mr. David was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve as Counsel to the Governor. In this role, he has functioned as the Governor’s chief counsel and principal legal advisor, and managed all significant legal and policy deliberations affecting New York State, including evaluating proposed legislation; implementing laws and policies and formulating the State’s posture in both affirmative and defensive litigation.
Prior to his appointment as the Governor’s Chief Counsel, Mr. David served for four years in the Governor’s cabinet as the Deputy Secretary and Counsel for Civil Rights, the first position of its kind in New York State. In this capacity, he was responsible for a full range of legal, policy, legislative and operational matters affecting civil rights and labor throughout the State. Mr. David also previously served as Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights for the Office of the New York State Attorney General, where he managed Assistant Attorneys General on a variety of civil rights investigations and affirmative litigation, including employment and housing discrimination, fair lending, immigration, reproductive rights and anti-bias claims.
Further, he previously served as Deputy Commissioner and Special Counselor at the New York State Division of Human Rights.
Prior to working in the public sector, Mr. David served as a staff attorney at the Lambda Legal Defense and Educational Fund. At Lambda Legal, Mr. David litigated precedent-setting civil rights cases across the nation affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals as well as those living with HIV and AIDS. He handled both affirmative and defensive matters relating to marriage, parenting rights, discrimination in schools and access to health care. In addition, Mr. David served as a litigation associate at the law firm Blank Rome LLP. He began his legal career as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Clifford Scott Green in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
For the past decade, Mr. David has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law. He began his work in academia with Fordham University Law School and continued at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
He is a graduate of the University of Maryland and Temple University School of Law.
Andrea Jenkins is a writer, performance artist, poet, and transgender activist. She is the first African American openly trans woman to be elected to office in the United States. Jenkins moved to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota in 1979 and was hired by the Hennepin County government, where she worked for a decade. Jenkins worked as a staff member on the Minneapolis City Council for 12 years before beginning work as curator of the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota's Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies.
She holds a Masters Degree in Community Development from Southern New Hampshire University, a MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University and a Bachelors Degrees in Human Services from Metropolitan State University. She is a nationally and internationally recognized writer and artist, a 2011 Bush Fellow to advance the work of transgender inclusion, and the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships. In 2018 she completed the Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University.
Attorney Michele K. Rayner-Goolsby is the founder and principal attorney of Civil Liberty Law. Michele is an award winning and highly sought after attorney due to her commitment to pursue justice for her clients. Michele has been selected as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers and is a Top-Rated AVVO attorney, and has garnered many community awards.
Born and raised in Clearwater, Florida, Michele came back to her hometown to hone her legal skills as an assistant public defender for Hillsborough and Pasco counties. She later continued her career working with two well-established law firms in the Tampa Bay area before establishing her own successful practice.
Michele is passionate about her client’s rights and takes that approach in every matter she handles. She ensures their rights are protected as if they were her own family. She has successfully represented clients in criminal, civil rights, family law, and personal injury matters.
Michele is committed to serving the Tampa Bay area, as she regularly volunteers with the Pasco County Teen Court, Pinellas County Law Fest, and the Clearwater Bar Legal Fair as a volunteer attorney. She is a member of the Fred G. Minnis Bar Association, where she is the co-chair for community outreach. She previously served on the Florida Bar’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and is a founding member of the Women Lawyers of Pasco County. Michele is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and is the chair of the Social Action Committee and for Political Awareness and Involvement for her local chapter.
Michele has been featured on CNN, The Today Show, Fox News, Good Morning America, The Root, HLN, The Huffington Post, Blavity, and various local radio, television and print media.
Imani Rupert-Gordon is the Executive Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). NCLR is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education.
Previously, Imani served as the Executive Director for Affinity Community Services. Affinity is a social justice organization that works with the entire LGBTQ community with a focus on Black women. She also served as the Director of the Broadway Youth Center, part of Howard Brown Health in Chicago, providing wrap around services for LGBTQ youth experiencing housing instability.
Rupert-Gordon received a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.