When Orlando Weekly writer, Billy Manes, lost Alan, his partner of 11 years, he nearly lost his home, his car and everything he owned as homophobic “in-laws” swept in. They disposed of Alan’s body, claimed his earthly possessions, and tried to take the wedding ring from Billy’s finger. In the anti-gay State of Florida, where same-sex relationships are not recognized and are not afforded any legal protections, Billy had to fight to save everything he and Alan owned together. Billy Manes shared his deeply personal story in the pages of Orlando Weekly after learning that others had similarly experienced the devastating consequences of living in one of the nation’s most anti-gay states. Now Billy is leading the charge in the fight for full equality because, as he tragically discovered, in life, love and death, equality matters.
Featuring Billy Manes; with David Baker-Hargrove, Martha Haynie, Tony Mauss, Mary Meeks, and Erin Sullivan.
Florida explicitly bans same-sex marriage by statute and constitutional amendment, depriving gay couples of essential legal protections that heterosexual couples obtain immediately upon saying, "I do." This is still the case despite the June 2013 Supreme Court decisions which returned marriage to California and overturned section 3 of DOMA.
After years of advocacy, only 8 of Florida's 67 counties, and a handful of cities, currently provide limited Domestic Partnership Registries. They offer a very small, geographically limited bundle of 6 or 7 rights for gay and lesbian couples and their families. Those protections - like hospital visitation, emergency notification and the right to bury a deceased partner - are only available within the boundaries of the specific county or city that issued the DPR. So a couple's legal protections are entirely dependant upon where they are physically located on any given day. The State of Florida does not recognize same-sex relationships whatsoever and affords them absolutely no legal protections.
In early 2013, the anti-gay, tea party-affiliated Republican Florida Legislature again refused to even consider a statewide domestic partnership bill that would have afforded basic protections to same-sex couples and their children during times of crises. Governor Rick Scott also refused to support the measure. Additionally, the State of Florida provides no workplace discrimination protections for LGBT people. These facts combined make Florida one of the most hostile, anti-gay states in America despite being home to one million LGBT people. So what happened to Billy Manes can and does happen every day in Florida, and in the other states that explicitly deny same-sex couples basic protections and humanity.
VISIT YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS
IN YOUR HOME DISTRICT
There are still legislators in the State of Florida who don't think, or don't care, that they have LGBT constituents - even though Florida's one million LGBT residents live in every county in the state. Share your story in person with the people who make the laws, and tell them, face to face, why you need critically important legal protections for your spouse and family - just like all families. Make an appointment today in your home district with your state representative and state senator. If you don't know who represents you in Tallahassee, go to the link below and enter your address. All contact information is there. It's just that easy!
In 2011, the word uterus was banned from the Florida House of Representatives even as GOP members in that room were voting to regulate all uteruses across the state via 18 anti-choice bills. As these extremists and their national leaders continue their war to limit access to contraception, women's health care clinics, comprehensive sex education and abortion services, the Uterati are fighting mad and are fighting back! Join Susannah Randolph, Sue Idtensohn, Sally Blackmun, Jenna Tosh, Martha Haynie and Joyce Hamilton Henry as they stand up against the GOP's war on women, and stand up for the full emancipation of women everywhere. Also featuring Rev. Bryan Fulwider, Joe Saunders, Shirley Jantzen, Pat Scully, Ida Eskamani, Alexa Nelen and and many others.
UPDATED EDITION In Anita's Wake: The Irrational War on Florida's Gay Families The documentary has been updated to include the Fall 2010 appellate decisions in the Martin Gill and Vanessa Alenier adoption cases, and the implications of the 2010 November elections when the most conservative government in Florida history was elected. New shorter running time: 49 minutes. This film was screened statewide with assistance by the ACLU of Florida.
"It is a really moving and superb piece of work." HOWARD SIMON, Executive Director, ACLU of Florida PURCHASE DVD
In Anita's Wake: The Irrational War on Florida's Gay Families The original 70 minute documentary (released in August 2010) looks back at the hysteria surrounding the 1977 homophobic crusade of Anita Bryant, and the resulting anti-gay adoption statute passed by the Florida Legislature.Featured in the film are parents and children who fought to save their families from a Florida government that irrationally endorsed anti-gay adoption discrimination for 33 years. Features: Martin Gill, Vanessa & Melanie Alenier, Cynthia Nixon, Stuart Milk, Elaine Bloom, Nadine Smith, Sen. Dan Gelber, et.al. (NTSC / 70 min / 2010) Global Peace Film Festival / Tallahassee Film Festival Produced & Directed by Vicki Nantz
Choosing Absalon (Thanks to the June 2013 Supreme Court decision overturning Section 3 of DOMA, same-sex couples may now sponsor their foreign spouses for permanent residency.)
What if you had to choose between love and your country? Prior to June 2013, U.S. immigration law permited only heterosexual citizens to sponsor a foreign spouse for permanent residency. The discriminatory "Defense of Marriage Act" prohibited the U.S. government from recognizing a same-sex union or marriage, even if that relationship was recognized by an individual state or foreign nation. Over 40,000 same-sex, binational couples in America were forced to choose between love and country. Eric and Absalon, legally married and madly in love, faced that unfair choice. (NTSC/27 min/2009) Central Florida Film Festival (winner) / Global Peace Film Festival / Tampa Int'l Gay & Lesbian Film Festival Producer/Director: Vicki Nantz
Accessory to Murder: Our Culture's Complicity in the Death of Ryan Skipper Why does our culture promote violence against the gay community? In March 2007, Ryan Skipper was targeted and brutally murdered in Central Florida because he was gay. Ryan's violent death at age 25 was the final act in the life of a man who endured years of harassment and assaults simply because he was gay in a rural community. Ryan was also victimized in death by a county sheriff who stereotypically and wrongly declared that Ryan was responsible for his own murder by cruising for sex and colluding in check fraud with his own killers. Ryan was further victimized by a media that blindly accepted the sheriff's homophobic assertions as fact, instead of uncovering the truth and exposing a heinous anti-gay hate crime - a crime that our culture was complicit in perpetrating. (NTSC/72 min/2007) Tampa Int'l Gay & Lesbian Film Festival Film Series Producer/Director: Vicki Nantz.
NOW AVAILABLE ON YouTube Below are links to the 4 segments of "In Anita's Wake," the Updated Edition. We encourage LGBT- affirmative organizations and educators to share this film. We also encourage everyone to email the links to every Florida legislator and government official who stands in the way of full equality for gay families.
Segment 1 / In Anita's Wake
In 1977, singer/activist/Baptist Anita Bryant declared war on the Miami gay community, and her anti-gay hysteria inspired the Florida Legislature to pass an irrational statute which banned gays and lesbians from adopting children.
Longtime foster parent, Martin Gill, wanted to provide a permanent home and legal safeguards to his foster sons, so he sued the Department of Children & Families for the right to adopt them. The State of Florida responded by hiring an ardent homophobe to defend the irrational anti-gay adoption statute. The homophobe would be exposed as a fraud by Miami New Times reporters, Thorp & Bullock, and the state would be rebuked by the Courts.
Appearing in Segment 2:Cynthia Nixon, Martin Gill, Rob Rosenwald, Dr. Kathryn Norsworthy, Shelbi Day, Dan Gelber, Brandon K. Thorp, Penn Bullock (RT 14:07) Email this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlGEB2lmHrM
Segment 3 / In Anita's Wake
Child guardian Vanessa Alenier wanted to adopt and thereby legally protect the child in her care, but Florida's anti-gay adoption statute prevented it. Vanessa and her wife Melanie decided to fight for the right to adopt their son. Anti-gay activists tried to influence the outcome, but the Orlando Sentinel exposed their tactics, and the Courts again rebuked the state.
Former State Legislator Elaine Bloom voted for Florida's adoption ban in 1977 in an effort to temper the momentum of Anita Bryant's anti-gay crusade. That effort failed. Now Elaine publicly advocates for LGBT equality on behalf of her gay son and his family.
Appearing in Segment 4: Elaine Bloom, David Bloom, Damian McNamara, Mike Federau, Curt Mellon, Nadine Smith, Nan Rich, Mary Brandenburg, Scott Randolph, Dan Gelber, Stuart Milk, Martin Gill, Kathryn Norsworthy (RT 13:37) Email this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcFV7tZEPv4
View the Trailers
Justice for Ryan Skipper This 4 minute short serves as the epilogue to "Accessory to Murder: Our Culture's Complicity in the Death of Ryan Skipper." In a rural courthouse in Polk County, justice was sought for the brutal 2007 murder of Ryan Skipper. Joseph Bearden and William Brown, two meth addicts who bragged about killing a "faggot," faced a prosecutor intent on putting them away for life. Hear the powerful condemnation of anti-gay hate from Assistant State Attorney Cass Castillo and Circuit Court Judge J. Michael Hunter during the 2009 trials for the killers of Ryan Skipper.
"A terrific film. It's a DVD that I've had the pleasure of watching, and I highly recommend it. It's beautifully done." Lisa Bloom CNN Legal Analyst February 2009
"Now a documentary casts the net of blame for the crime wider: on a society that enables disrespect for gay men, lesbians and transgender people, law enforcement officers who consider some less deserving of justice, reporters who regard hearsay as truth, and religious and political figures who preach intolerance. Accessory to Murder: Our Culture's Complicity in the Death of Ryan Skipper is a no-frills, emotional declaration that all of this must end." St. Petersburg Times, May 29, 2008
"Accessory to Murder: Our Culture's Complicity in the Death of Ryan Skipper should be required viewing." Tom Dyer, Publisher of Watermark, March 6, 2008.
"The documentary details the life and death of Ryan Skipper but also deals with what it describes as the societal forces that encourage homophobia and violence against gays and lesbians." Orlando Sentinel, March 2, 2008.
"A bold new documentary takes a piercing look into the anti-gay rhetoric that surrounded the investigation into this young man's death." Watermark, Jan 24, 2008 "The documentary is a thoughtful examination of how the crime was investigated and portrayed in the media." Express Gay News, Jan 24, 2008
"I wish every city council, law enforcement center, church, school board, and high school could view this. The attitude of society in general has to change so there will never be another tragedy like the one you told of Ryan." Debra Smith, PFLAG Great Lakes Regional Director, Michigan
"Thanks for producing something this powerful in recognition of GLBT and their families." Alesa Glazier, Polk County PFLAG
"It is our obligation as human beings to utilize this documentary in any way possible to raise awareness of the fact that people are still being murdered for who they are. As the parent of a gay child it is impossible for me to look at a picture of Ryan and not see my own son's face reflected. I cannot overlook the possibility that my own child could be the next victim. Thank you to Pat and Lynn for allowing Vicki Nantz to make this film. I believe it will play a vital role in educating people in the fight for acceptance and tolerance." Lisa Rivero, PFLAG Brevard County, Florida Safe Schools Coordinator
"What a powerful and moving documentary. You interviewed people that really 'got' how important it was to get this story out to the mainstream public." Margo Saltzman, PFLAG Philadelphia Safe Schools Coordinator "It is a great film." Sally Hewit, Orlando PFLAG
Vicki Nantz is a graduate of Florida State University. The award-winning producer/director spent her career in broadcast and cable television where she directed hundreds of hours of programming. Now Vicki only produces documentaries and films about real people and important subjects that matter.