This Weekend, Pridefest of the Palm Beaches Has More to Celebrate

You could theoretically travel around the world for 12 months attending gay pride festivals, from Melbourne in January to Manila in December.

The big U.S. celebrations, in New York and San Francisco, are scheduled to coincide with the historic Stonewall Riots in late June. But in South Florida, the festivals begin early: March 13th and 14th in Fort Lauderdale. And this weekend, the 17th-annual Palm Beach Pridefest in Lake Worth, organized by Compass Gay and Lesbian Community Center: a two-day party that kicks off today in Bryant Park and revolves around a noon parade Sunday down Lake Avenue, with festivities in the park to follow.

Florida Pride-goers have a few extra victories to celebrate this year. Apart from the fact that his frenemies can ante up for a chance to dunk controversial Lake Worth gadfly and blogger Wes Blackman into a tankful of water (3 p.m. Sunday, be there!), they'll also be crowing about recent resolutions passed by three four SoFla city commissions in support of repealing the gay adoption ban.

Florida House Rep. Mary Brandenburg and Sen. Nan Rich have once again introduced joint bills that would repeal a ban on Florida gays and lesbians adopting children (if the bills pass, they'll be effective July 1 of this year). And this time, they have the official support of three cities and two U.S. congresswomen. This month, Lake Worth, West Palm, [UPDATED: and Oakland Park] commissions voted unanimously on resolutions supporting the bills; another resolution was passed by the Wilton Manors commission on December 8 of last year.

And on March 21 of this year, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) joined hands over the divide and sent a joint video message broadcast at an Equality Florida party in support of a repeal on the ban.

Simultaneous to the bills in the House and Senate are the ACLU's latest legal challenges, brought on behalf of adoptive parent Martin Gill. The ACLU has fought an 11-year battle to make it legal for gays to adopt: It launched its first such Florida challenge in 1999.

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