Community | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning Issues Are Focus of Candidate Forum

By: Matt Galka, James Buechele Email
By: Matt Galka, James Buechele Email

UPDATE 11:52 p.m.

Almost 20 candidates spokes at the non-partisan forum and more than 100 people filled city hall for the event.

"I think the crowd that was inside the chambers today is a testament to how interested people are in these issues," said Andy Janecek.

The candidates that spoke here at tonight's forum spoke on a number of issues in the LBGT community. One of the biggest ones is anti-bullying campaigns. Both incumbents and challengers talked about initiatives to stop the bullying of LGBT teens which hit home with many in the audience.

"There are a lot of people in the audience who have children and they're going to have children and they want to know that wherever they're living that their children are going to be protected," said forum organizer Amanda James.

Bullying is a huge issue and people are suffering from that so that's near the top of our list in priorities that we've got to work together to address," added Janecek.

Tallahassee, FL - The topic of gay and lesbian rights can be very divisive and tonight many candidates hoping to be elected will get to voice their opinions on the matter. But will these opinions sway voters in November?

The Family Tree community center is the main sponsor for the candidates forum discussing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer issues being held Monday night.

Andy Janecek, Family Tree Board of Directors: "right now, voters are very interested in the economy, healthcare, and those big issues we hear about, but we also have voters who are very concerned for the equal rights of all Americans."

Fresh off National Coming out Day on October 11th, local candidates vying for office will be faced with questions about bullying, domestic partnership benefits, and equal employment opportunities relating to the LGBTQ community. But do the opinions of the candidates matter to voters when they're casting their ballots?

Fred Harris, Quincy Voter, stated, "they do because if somebody doesn't support equality amongst sexual preferences then that's a negative for me. I don't think that it's appropriate to single out a particular group and treat them differently than anyone else."

Levi Gallian, Leon County Law Student, said, "I think it makes sense seeing as to how popular it is to talk about to at least mention it. But for me it's not really going to decide one way or the other...we already know that some candidates don't support marriage equality and maybe they're not on par with where we'd like them to be. But we still applaud them for coming out and engaging in a conversation."

The forum kicks off in a little under a half an hour here at city hall and is expected to go until 730. Members of the community will have the opportunity to submit questions at the event and then there will be a meet the candidates reception following the forum.


Tallahassee, FL - Gay and lesbian rights is a big topic of discussion in our area today. Several local candidates on the November ballot are participating in a candidates forum tonight. The City Commission Chambers will be the site of the candidate forum tonight at 6 pm. Several gay and lesbian organizations are co- sponsoring the event.

Every candidate on the general election ballot excluding presidential candidates was invited. As of now they have multiple confirmations including Leon County Commission Seat One candidates Akin Akinyemi and Mary Ann Lindley, Tallahassee City Commission Seat One candidates Scott Maddox and Steve Stewart, and many more.

The candidates will address issues such as bullying and domestic partnership benefits.

WCTV will be covering the forum.


Tallahassee, FL - The Family Tree Community Center (www.familytreecenter.org), in partnership with the Capital City GLBTA Democratic Caucus (www.ccglbtdems.org), PFLAG Tallahassee (www.pflag-tallahassee.org), and Equality Florida (www.eqfl.org), are proud to host a non-partisan candidate forum pertaining to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning issues. Tom Flanigan of WFSU-FM will serve as the moderator for the event. The candidates will answer questions on topics such as bullying, domestic partnership benefits, and equal employment opportunity as it relates to the LGBTQ community. Members of the community will have the opportunity to submit questions at the event.

The forum will take place October 15, 2012 from 6:00pm - 7:30pm in the Tallahassee City Commission chambers located at 300 South Adams St. on the 2nd floor. All of the candidates that will appear on the November 6th, General Election ballot, (excluding the Presidential Candidates) were formally invited to the event. As of October 5, 2012, the candidates who have confirmed their attendance are: Akin Akinyemi, Mary Ann Lindley, Lisa Sprague, Jackie Pons, Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda, Steve Stewart, Scott Maddox, Kirk Headley-Perdue, Martha Lang, Ryan Terrell, Tabitha Frazier, Lorin Pratt, William Helmic, Blas Gomez, Barbara Hobbs, Josefina Tamayo, Bill Howell, John Shaw, Pete Williams, and Halsey Beshears.

Immediately following the forum will be a "Meet the Candidates" reception at Andrews Bar & Grill located at 228 South Adams St. from 8:00pm - 10:00pm. Refreshments will be provided at the reception. Both events are free to the public.

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The mission of The Family Tree is to provide services that promote the well being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons, and to provide a place where everyone is welcome.
This will be accomplished in part by providing a safe place for LGBT community life, providing services that promote well being, building bridges to other communities and groups, and advocating for LGBT issues and rights.


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