New South Beach LGBT Visitor Center Will Welcome Gays to Unwelcoming Florida

The Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is set to open a visitor center in South Beach as it moves its headquarters to the old city hall. The group has leased the space from the city and plans to open the center April 1. The fact that the group counts the county, Miami, Miami Beach, FPL, American Airlines, and Burger King as corporate sponsors illustrates that South Florida is a relatively gay-friendly place.

But what exactly is the center supposed to tell visitors?

"Welcome to Florida. You can't get married or civil-unionized here. You can't adopt children under any circumstances. We soon might not allow movies featuring gay characters to get tax breaks. You might not be able to visit your partner if he or she winds up in the hospital, but you can get a tan and dress up like a Na'vi, and we'll gladly take your tourism dollars."

It illustrates the problem that when you have areas such as South Beach and Wilton Manors that recognize members of the GLBT community as not only potential moneybags but also actual people in a state that has reactionary, bigoted rednecks and politicians without the balls to take on outdated and discriminatory laws.

In the meantime, we applaud communities such as Miami Beach and groups such as the MDLCC for being glimmers of hope in a sometimes backward state.