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www.ambiente.us   AUGUST |AGOSTO 2010

Voten Por Flippen!
Interview with Florida State Representative candidate
Justin Flippen
By Armando Diaz

Armando | How are you feeling today?
Justin | Feeling great! <laughs>

Armando | What did you dream about last night?
Justin | <hmmm>

Armando | Did I catch you off guard?
Justin | Yeah…I think I was in my car going somewhere with my mother and my family
but I couldn’t tell you where.

Armando | <laughs>

Armando | Could you give us a brief history of your political journey?
Justin | Sure, sure.  I’ve been active in the Democratic Party since my days in college.  I
was Florida’s first openly gay student body president at FAU and also the president of
the College Democrats on campus.  When I finished my studies at FAU I went on to
law school at the University of Florida.   Upon receiving my Juris Doctor, I decided to
work only for the Democratic Party and went to work for the Florida House of
Representatives…did that for about (2) years, got to understand the mechanics of how
Tallahassee and the state legislature
Armando | Do you have a
favorite song right now?
Justin | Gosh…I have a
lot of favorite songs,
classic stuff like Billy Joel’
s “We Didn’t Start The
Fire” to the more
contemporary…
Beyonce and Lady GaGa
so it just really depends
on my mood.

*Justin also added the
Star-Spangled Banner,
“Only in America” by
Brooks and Dunn, “The
Touch” by Stan Bush, and
“Where My Heart Will
Take Me” by Russell
Watkins are among his
favorites (but yes, he
actually is that patriotic
that he loves our national
anthem).

Armando |  When’s your
birthday?
*Justin answered this but
to reserve his privacy on
that (at least from my
end), let’s say he’s a
Taurus =)
.
operates…came back home to Broward County and went to work for the county
government including the County Mayor’s office where I gathered a greater
understanding of local government.  During that time I became a member of the
Broward County Democratic Party and served as the Secretary to the Deerfield Beach
Democratic Club  and also became the President of the Dolphin Democrats (a local
democratic organization).

In 2008, I ran for office in the city of Wilton Manors and won a commission seat. My
colleagues unanimously elected me vice-mayor of the city and I’ve been serving as
Vice Mayor of the city of Wilton Manors for about (2) years.  

I take being a Democrat very seriously…so when I went as an
official Florida delegate to the 2008 Democratic National
Convention in Denver and we adopted our rules as to what it
means to be a Democrat, I was proud to vote in favor of our party
platform and take it home (back here to Florida), after the
celebration was over in Denver.  I even travelled to Washington to
see Obama inaugurated as I wanted to see and be a part of this
cycle from start to finish.

Armando | That is quite impressive you’re a busy man!
Justin | Yes I’ve been fairly busy I guess you could say.

Armando | Well that’s a very accomplished resume for a 32 year old.
Justin | Thank you.
Armando | The only antiquated and discriminatory law of its kind in the entire country, Florida’s
Ban on Gay Adoption…your feelings on it?
Justin |  Unlike anyone who has ever held this position before from this district, I will sponsor a
bill in the state legislature repealing this abominable law.  Our current state representative
ignored this issue during her first year in office.  Only when realizing there was an opponent to
face in the general election on August 24th, did she find it relevant to become a co-sponsor of
this bill.  It’s had co-sponsors from this district for far too long and I know what it means to be
the co-sponsor of a bill (having worked at the state legislature).  You go on to the computer, you
click ‘I Support
It’ and that’s where it stops.

To me the issue of adoption is very personal. My mother was
adopted.  I can’t adopt.  And I’m an openly gay man who has
a partner and we’d like to have a family established just like
any other person.

I have a long history of opposing the ban on gay adoption.  
When I was in law school I started Lambda Legal (at UF Law),
and we did a petition drive and a seminar workshop where we
brought in experts to talk about how it’s detrimental to the children…when they are left in the
state’s care and they don’t have loving parents to raise them…beyond that it would also save
the state millions of dollars if they would open up adoption for everybody…and in an economic
situation where you’re wanting to (1) figure
out what’s in the best interest of the child and (2) save the state money, to
me it makes sense on all accounts to repeal this discriminatory law.

I made sure that GL:AAD and the ACLU could do legislative training in Wilton
Manors.  We provided them meeting space at Hagen Park so they could do
legislative training with activists all over the county and the region
particularly on this issue.  I have a long record of opposition to this ban.

Armando | Is there anything you feel GLBT voters should know, to perhaps
motivate more of our community to exercise their voice?
Justin | GLBT voters and all voters need to know that there’s still hope out there.  A lot of
people become very apathetic and disillusioned with those who serve in elected office plus
they don’t like politicians…I see the position that I hold in my city and the seat that I’m
running for as an office of public service…to be a public servant means to do what’s best
on the people’s behalf.

District 92’s demographics are very unique…nearly one third of it is GLBT same-sex
                      households and for such a large number of voters in the district you
                                                                         would think that you’d have a
                                                                         representative that is on point on the
                                                                         issues that affect ALL the communities of
                                                                         this district.  That is not the case.

                                                                        As far as what the voters need to
                                                                        know…there are people (and I am one of
                                                                        them) who have the passion and the drive
                                                                        and the determination that when I get to
                                                                        Tallahassee I will not just be a fierce
                                                                        advocate…I will be relentless with the
                                                                        state legislature, because I will be one of
                                                                        the (120) members that are debating bills
                                                                        that are important to the constituency not
                                                                        only that I represent but to which I
myself                                         belong…and that’s a game changer in Tallahassee.  
                                             You talk about gay and lesbian issues and they (the
                                            state) think of it as some unknown entity that no one has
                                           any true conception of…but when (1) of their own
                                          members in the chamber is going to be there every time
                                         they debate…housing, employment and discrimination
                                        issues, adoption rights, civil unions or marriage
                                      equality…every time they talk about it, I will be there to
                                    remind them that the state should not be denying anybody
their equality  or discriminating against a community.  So having a voice with them
will be a total game changer for the state legislature because they’ve never had it
before.

We all got psyched up in 2008…fired up and ready to
go… Well after the convention I came home, I was fired up
ready to go.  I’m still fired up and I’m still going!

Armando | That’s very hot!  And that is something we need to see in all our elected
officials, as you’ve mentioned, not someone who just sits but that actively pursues
a much needed change in our state.

Armando | Do you have a positive note to add as far as our state’s current
economical situation?

Justin |I feel we’re getting through the worst and we’re managing through a
recession…as far as the economics of our state are concerned we need
legislators who are willing to think outside of the box.  We are in the 21st
century…we need to move and think towards progress.   Tourism (is my livelihood)
and it represents a huge component of this state’s economy.  People come to
Florida to experience our weather, our culture, our diversity, our clean beaches, our
clean waterways, recreation and shopping.  All of this and the overall environment
are critical to our tourist industry, so that’s why I oppose drilling for oil off our coast.  
I support measures that will have us invest in alternative and cleaner sources of
energy…adopting a renewable energy portfolio has been recommended by the
Florida Public Service Commission…that requires for 20% or more of our energy to
be sought from or derived from cleaner energy sources.

These are the things that we must start doing…and to reach those you need to
provide businesses with the economic support to move in that direction…to wean
themselves off and transition from the last century’s fuel
.




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Armando | So it’s vital, this continued sense of evolution really.
Justin | We need to have a social and economic evolution, yes.

Armando| Two conservative gubernatorial candidates (Bill McCollum and
newcomer Rick Scott) recently used support and tolerance on GLBT issues as
“mud-slinging” tactics, your thoughts on that?
Justin | The Republican Party tries to energize and polarize its base with such
                                          issues…to ultra conservatives, “gay” issues are very
                                         divisive…what they’re doing is trying to
                                         demonstrate who appeals more to that Republican
                                         conservative base.  The GOP does not promote the
                                         change that is needed in Tallahassee, the
                                         Democratic Party and real Democrats do.  

                                       
  Armando | Do you have a favorite comfort food?
                                                 You know when you go through stress as we all
                                                        do…but in your case the ‘politics’ involved.
                                                                           
Justin | Well I love chocolate, I’m
                                                                           a big chocolate ice cream fan
                                                                           and I’ve taken a liking to jelly
                                                                           beans during this election cycle…
                                                                           I’ve been eating too many jelly
                                                                           beans.

                                                         Armando | Any favorite jelly beans?
                                                Justin | I like all colors all flavors…I don’t
                                         discriminate on my jelly beans or my politics!
.
Armando | Do you love Florida?
Justin | Yes!  Florida is my home state…I’m blessed to have lived in South Florida
which has such a  diverse culture.  Mi mejor amigo es puertorrigueňo mi segunda
madre es puertorrigueňa tambien…all this is important to me as I embrace that
diversity which crosses ethnicities, crosses race, and obviously crosses sexual
orientation as well.

Armando | What are your thoughts on your road to Washington?
Justin |  Wow, you presume I have a road to Washington!

Armando |  Absolutely you do.  You got me all excited!
Justin | <laughs> I think my hopes should be no different from any other citizen of
our community in that every citizen can make a change and make a difference in
the affairs of our government…I don’t see the government as separate from the
people, I see the people as the  government…I think it’s a paradigm shift.  For far
too long we’ve had politicians that try to argue that people are separate from
government…that is un-American.  I stand as a public servant that is engaged in
the political process…who started out as an activist and who wants to renew that
faith that government is of, for and by the people.

So help me God that will be what I do the rest of my life.  In Wilton Manors, to
Tallahassee to wherever else my path may take me.

Armando |  Do you have a message for our Spanish-speaking, Latin-American
population?
Justin | Si, por favor voten por mi…Justin Flippen…muchas gracias.

The Democratic Primary is fast approaching on August 24th,
 2010.  
Exercise your voice and vote!
 
.
The City of Wilton Manors voted unanimously to support a
resolution calling on Congress to pass the Uniting American
Families Act.  Justin had the pleasure of adding by
amendment Argentina to the list of nations that recognize
marriage equality.

* During his time at FAU, Justin served as president of the College Democrats and
at UF Law he served as the vice president of the law school’s Democratic Club
which involved him in the student government of the law school and became
student body president of the law school

* In 2008, Justin became one of (200) representatives from the state of Florida as
an official delegate to the Democratic National Convention…Justin states, ”being
involved in that presidential cycle, to actually represent this state’s vote as only (1)
out of (200) people in Denver was an amazing process!“

*Justin is born and raised in Broward County, where he currently lives and works.  
He and his partner are recently celebrating their (3) year anniversary.

For more information please visit
www.justinflippen.com


References:
Florida Public Service Commission  
www.psc.state.fl.us
City of Wilton Manors  - Office of Vice Mayor www.wiltonmanors.com/index.asp?
Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7B45814A9F-0AF6-4CFC-B6BC-3683C285710A%
7D&DE=%7BCAB586FA-F21E-4837-AC81-E648C7D3ED77%7D

CLICK HERE for more Armando, Diaz, Jr.

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