Miami Beach is usually pretty colorful. Art Deco buildings boast vivid shades of pink and turquoise. Bright green palm trees line the streets year-round.
But this weekend the city is awash in every color of the rainbow in celebration of Miami Beach Gay Pride, and if last year is any indication, that means a massive throng of at least 60,000 people could flood Ocean Drive.
On Monday, the Miami Beach City Hall raised a rainbow flag in support.
“The city of Miami Beach takes great pride, not only in diversity, but also in the fact that we are an inclusive city – and for us, Gay Pride is a part of showing the type of community that we are,” proclaimed Commissioner Jorge Exposito.
Commissioner Michael Gongora – the city's self-proclaimed “first and only openly gay elected official that the city of Miami Beach has ever seen” – joined Exposite. He spoke about the history of the city’s inclusiveness.
“I’m very, very proud and honored to be part of such an inclusive (city) commission, where diversity is always included at every level of city government,” he said on the City Hall’s front lawn.
In 2004, the city of Miami Beach voted unanimously to create a domestic partner registry, leading the way before the same benefit was extended to all of Miami-Dade County. The registry granted non-married couples visitation rights at heath care and correctional facilities and the power to make health care decisions for one another.
In 2010, the city's Human Rights Commission went another step further and voted to update its human rights ordinance, extending municipal protection to its transgender residents.
At the time, The Advocate detailed the change in policy:
Attorney and former commissioner Victor Diaz Jr. said in a hearing last week that the measure comes as reaction to Amendment 2, a far-reaching gay marriage ban that was passed statewide in 2008. He said the law could weaken equal rights across the state.
"This is about being again at the forefront, at the cutting edge of these issues," Diaz said. "So when people say, 'Gee, where should I live? Where do I feel safest? Where do I feel I can express myself and raise children and love my partner and contribute to my community without any fear of discrimination?' they say Miami Beach."
In a sign of how the city's Gay Pride events have come of age, singer Adam Lambert, an American Idol TV contestant and runner-up in 2009, will take the stage on Sunday.
"In five short years, Miami Beach Gay Pride has gone from a neighborhood event to an event on the global stage," said Pride Chair Babak Movahedi in a statement quoted by USA Today. "The fact that someone of Adam Lambert 's caliber is enthusiastic about performing at Miami Beach Gay Pride speaks volumes about the significance of our events."