Tag Archives: human rights ordinance

Ally Profile: Maria Mark

Maria Mark_FP_Print_2Congratulations to our newest ally, Maria Mark!  Maria helped draft and sponsor the Human Rights Ordinance that recently passed (4-0) on August 11, 2014.  Maria was recently awarded the “Voice for Equality Award” at Equality Florida’s Jacksonville Annual Gala for her dedication to equal rights for the LGBT community in Atlantic Beach.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Maria was adopted at 18 months old, by her father who was stationed in South Korea. She started school in Germany but she and her family settled in Columbia, South Carolina, where her mother was raised.

Maria graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in business and moved to Jacksonville in 1979 to be with her parents, who had moved there a year earlier. She began her legal career at the Rogers, Towers law firm and eventually moved to the Beach to work for Anderson & Howell as a litigation paralegal. She obtained her paralegal certification from the University of North Florida and continued working in this field for over 25 years.

In 2006, Maria entered the non-profit world and worked for the St. Johns River Alliance and Preservation North Florida (n/k/a Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation) as the assistant program manager. In 2009, she was named as the interim Executive Director of the Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation and now serves as its part-time Executive Director.

Maria was elected to the City of Atlantic Beach City Commission in 2011. She has been a community advocate for many years and chairs the community event, MarshFest. This seven-year old, bi-annual event held at Dutton Island Park & Preserve draws over 1,000 people for a family day filled with free Americana-music, kayak tours and nature hikes of the beautiful parks and marshes in Atlantic Beach.

Maria is a member of the “Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2014” and most recently was selected as the honoree for the Economic Development Award by The Women of Color Cultural Foundation. She is a former board member of Beaches Watch, a Beaches civic organization and served on the St. Johns River Ferry Task Force, which was spearheaded by City of Jacksonville Council President Bill Gulliford. She is also on the A1A Corridor working group that is applying to obtain the A1A Scenic & Historic designation for A1A in Duval and Nassau Counties.

Maria lives in Atlantic Beach with her husband of almost 23 years, Bob, and they have a 14 year-old son, Garrett. She is also the caretaker for her 86 year-old mother. In her free time, Maria enjoys golfing, nature photography and bird watching.

Ally Profile: Rabbi Joshua Lief

Rabbi Lief_FP_Print_R3Rabbi Joshua B. Lief is the Senior Rabbi of historic Congregation Ahavath Chesed. He grew up in Wheeling, West Virginia where he was active in all sports, music, and was an Eagle Scout. He attended Princeton University, where he swam on the varsity squad, competed on the debate team, and graduated with a degree in History.

After Princeton, Rabbi Lief attended the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  After living in Jerusalem for the first year of the seminary, he completed his studies at HUC-JIR’s campus in Cincinnati, Ohio where he was ordained as a Rabbi in May of 2003.

Prior to moving to Jacksonville, Rabbi Lief served as the Rabbi of Mizpah Congregation in Chattanooga, Tennessee where he helped grow the congregation and reached out to the larger community. Here in Jacksonville, he serves on the boards of ONEJAX, JCCI, and the Community Hospice. He is an avid athlete, a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, member of the Downtown Rotary Club, a graduate of the Leadership Jacksonville New Leadership Summit, enjoys and supports the arts, and is honored to engage in civic activities.

Rabbi Lief is married to his beautiful wife Rebecca. They are delighted daily by their adorable daughters, Leah and Ellie, and are proud to make Jacksonville their home.

As a Rabbi, I am relieved that Judaism only demands of me that I make myself the best person that I can possibly be.  I am not required to change anyone else to be more like me.  Indeed, with my faith in a God who is wholly (and holy) beyond my comprehension, and a conviction that all people are made in the Divine image, how could I ask anyone not to be who they are?  Many people are fond of taking Biblical verses out of context and frequently Leviticus 18:22 is cited as an injunction against homosexuality.  From my perspective, the operative verse on the issue of civil rights is actually to be found one chapter later, at Leviticus 19:17, “Reprove your neighbor, but come to no guilt on his account.”  The issue is not the perceived rightness or wrongness of any individual’s private behavior.  Rather, the issue is the absolute wrongness of public discrimination against our fellow human beings for simply being who they are.  It is quite fitting that the very next verse is Leviticus 19:18, “Love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.”  Would that we could all reach that level of holiness.  Let’s keep trying.

To contact Rabbi Lief, please email him at rabbi@thetemplejacksonville.org.

Ally Profile: Ronald Breaker

Ronald Breaker, US Army CW2 (Ret.)
Ronald Breaker, US Army CW2 (Ret.)

Ronald E. Breaker is a native of Jacksonville’s Eastside.  He served 21 years in the United States Army, retiring as Chief Warrant Officer 2.  Mr. Breaker then served for 13 years as a Department of Defense Civilian, retiring in September 1996 as a GS 13.  He returned to Jacksonville with his high school sweetheart and bride of over 48 years, Barbara Lewis-Breaker.  They currently reside in Historic Springfield.  Presently, Mr. Breaker works as a freelance photographer. He studied photography with New York Institute of Photography in 1965 and University of North Florida in 2001. Ronald and his wife are the proud parents of four children and four grandchildren.

In his own words, Ronald shares his journey towards allyship:

My journey to this point as a straight ally has been one of reevaluating my thoughts and beliefs. When the LGBT community started framing their plight as a civil rights issue I disagreed and would often say, “they choose to be gay, and could stop if they wanted to. Being black is different, I don’t have a choice.”   When I think of people I have known as early as 3rd or 4th grade who were gay, I realized gay people could no more change their identity than I could change mine.

We live in a changing world, and when the military realized that, they knew their policies of discrimination against women and eventually LGBT members of the military had to change.  It is very hard for a lot of us to accept these facts, but I believe, when you know better you do better. To that end, If Jacksonville is to become a first class NFL city it cannot discriminate against any of its citizens. Injustice against one of us is injustice against all of us.

See a video clip of his statement here: 

 

PRESS: Arbus Magazine Mar/Apr ’14 Issue

We Are Straight Allies has been featured as one of TEN One Spark Creator Projects (out of over 700) in the March/April issue of Arbus Magazine! Thank you, Cinda Sherman! Also, check out page 45 to see Hope McMath’s Ally Ad, then click to read her profile here:  http://wp.me/p3PnKk-ef

We would also like to send a special thank you to our ad participants: Gloria Steinem, Steve Halverson, Rachel Thomas Vitti, Pat Geraghty, Frieda Saraga, Brennan Campa, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Rabbi Jesse Olitzky, Ronald Breaker, Pastors William & Victoria Hamilton, Luis Lopez, Darnell Smith, Gary & Nancy Chartrand, Meredith and Mark Frisch, Pastor Bruce Havens, John Delaney, Pedro Cohen and Hope McMath.

One Spark, “the World’s Crowdfunding Festival” is April 9-13, 2014 in downtown Jacksonville. Creators from all over the world will light up our city with projects in art, innovation, music, science and technology. They’ll showcase their best ideas for a chance to access $310,000 in crowdfunds and cash awards, 3.25 million dollars in capital investments and direct contributions from more than 150,000 attendees and backers around the globe.

You can check out our project profile by clicking on this link:
http://www.beonespark.com/discover/creator_projects/we-are-straight-allies

Louie Lopez, Father

Luis “Louie” Lopez is a retired professional jockey and father of a transgendered young adult. He explains why it is important for us to support the passage of a comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance in the city of Jacksonville, FL. Read more of his family’s story here: http://wp.me/p3PnKk-8i

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