Photo by Michael Lehet courtesy of Creative Commons.
Maria Britos/Staff Writer
This past June, the country witnessed a historic win for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally community when the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the Supreme Court. Across the nation, communities and supporters celebrated as this victory marked a step closer for the gay rights movement to gain recognition by the government.
Multicultural Programs and Services LGBTQA Initiatives at the University celebrate on another level. The organization is hosting a set of workshops aimed to provide awareness and education to students and faculty about the issues arising that are affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally community. Participants will be able to “dine, discuss and deliberate” the most controversial topics over free food and drinks.
The 1-year-old organization has accomplished not only workshops, but has provided support to students who identify as LGTBQA.
DOMA will be the topic of one of the many sessions that will be offered throughout the year.
“There are folks that want to know what is there now for Florida?” said Gisela Vega, associate director of LGBTQA Initiatives. “And there’s only a piece of the iceberg that we’re talking about with this topic.”
Special guest speakers will be discussing the future of same-sex marriage and related issues, particularly in Florida. Jose Gabilondo, associate professor at the College of Law, along with Safeguarding American Values for Everyone Dade will deliberate policies involved in helping the LGBTQA community acquire desired rights in Florida.
Florida is one of the many states that does not recognize same-sex marriage. Marriage isn’t the only issue affecting them; such problems arise when couples want to be properly recognized by the government but are limited due to the laws against them.
“When DOMA got overturned, there were a lot of celebrations in Florida, but at the same time Florida sort of realized that we have a lot of work to do,” said Vega. “Although DOMA has been squashed, the Florida constitution does not allow same-sex marriages in the state of Florida.”
Edwin Serrano, graduate assistant for LGBTQA Initiatives, said that these issues extend beyond that of just being able to get married in Florida.
“In terms of rights, I would say that being open in your job, a lot of people sometimes have to keep that closeted because they don’t know what could happen to them,” said Serrano.
Fortunately, Miami-Dade county laws and the University include sexual orientation as a protected class from discrimination at work. However, according to Vega, individuals with gender expression and gender identity issues are facing even less protection than the LGBTQA group.
“Anything that requires identification or verification of the sex almost automatically excludes transgender people,” said Wallace Cure, freshmen mathematics major who has been an actively involved member of LGTBQA Initiatives since before he entered the University.
Recently, a mentor program has been initiated as another strategy to reach out to the 10 percent of students that make up the LGBTQA population at the University.
“We may be small, but we are big,” said Serrano.
The event takes place on Sept. 25 at Biscayne Bay Campus and Oct. 3 at Modesto A. Maidique Campus from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Anyone interested can make reservations through the LGBTQA website at lgbt.fiu.edu or via email at email@example.com.