It's pretty much common knowledge that Fort Lauderdale -- Wilton Manors, in particular -- is home to one of the largest per capita gay populations in the country.
Unfortunately, in terms of gay rights, Florida has a long way to go.
One Fort Lauderdale resident wants to see that change. Brendon Ayanbedejo, 2013 Super Bowl Champion, wants to do away with anti gay discrimination in Florida and across the country. The linebacker teamed up with Equality Florida to host a fundraising dinner last night at Kitchenetta. In addition to the numerous activists and supporters, MMA fighter Rashad Evans also stopped by.
Ayanbadejo is well-known for his work in supporting gay rights. He wrote an open letter to President Obama in the Huffington Post back in 2009 titled "Same Sex Marriages: What's the Big Deal?," urging the President to take a stand for gay marriage.
Ayanbadejo is not gay himself -- and, sorry ladies, he's married with two kids -- but he believes in equal rights for everyone. He equates the same sex marriage debate to that of Civil Rights era in the '60s.
"My parents were an interracial couple who married in the '70s," he said, "Luckily, that's when they met, because just a decade earlier it was illegal for them to marry in some places. The government has been putting laws on marriage for a long time. It's the same thing."
The small dinner was held buffet style at Fort Lauderdale's Kitchenetta. For $150 VIP guests were invited to a pre-dinner meet and greet with Ayanbadejo to snap a few photos. Dinner tickets were $100 per person, which included three family-style courses and an opportunity to hear Ayanbadejo speak about his work for gay rights and marriage equality.
Vincent Foti, owner of Kitchenetta, offered to to hold the event at the restaurant. Generally, he tries not to get involved in politics, but he supports equal rights.
"Brendon is a friend of mine and this is a subject that is close to his heart," said Foti, "I try not to get involved in political positions based on what I do, but I believe all people should have the same rights. It's none of our business."
Currently, Foti and Ayanbadejo are working on a joint business venture along with some other professional athletes. While the details are still being hashed out, Foti did let us know that they are working on a fast-casual concept featuring healthy, organic fare. The team is putting the plans together to launch in Broward, Palm Beach, and Dade counties with the initial spot to open in Fort Lauderdale.
"It's a healthy and green concept," said Foti, "We're going for free-range, cutting edge organic, and cool."
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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