Gala in Paradise in Tavernier and Black & White Ball of Lee County in Fort Myers

At this historic moment in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement, members of the community will gather twice to celebrate the milestones and victories of the past year.

First they will be present at the Inaugural Gala in Paradise to celebrate such local events as the overturning of the same-sex marriage ban in Monroe County. Then, they will attend the  Inaugural Black & White Ball of Lee County to celebrate such victories as Cape Coral’s recent passage of a Domestic Partnership policy. At both events, community members will learn about the next steps in the fight for equality in Florida.

Both events are presented by PNC Bank. The Inaugural Gala in Paradise takes place on Sunday, December 7 at 5 p.m. at the home of Stan Zuba and Eric Anderson, 151 Lake Road in Tavernier (Mile Marker 90 on U.S. 1). The Inaugural Black & White Ball of Lee County will take place on Saturday, December 13 at 6 p.m. at the Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center, 2301 First Street in downtown Fort Myers. Tickets are $50 for the Tavernier gala and $100 for the Fort Myers gala; both purchases are tax deductible.


At the Inaugural Gala in Paradise, attendees will enjoy a beautiful Keys sunset in serene surroundings. They will also hear an update on the equality journey in Florida from Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith, who will be giving a State of the State Address.

Celebrity DJ Karin Ward, currently based out of New York City and well-known for being the featured talent at events and parties across the country, will provide the music for this beautiful event. Karin will be joined by singer, songwriter and guitarist Dan Bern. Bern has written hundreds of songs and has released two dozen albums over the past twenty years. His music has been compared to the repertoires of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello.

Special guests will include Islamorada Mayor Ted Blackburn, U.S. Representative Joe Garcia, and State Representative Holly Raschein.


The Inaugural Black & White Ball of Lee County will feature a State of the State address by Nadine Smith, celebrating achievements of the past year and outlining the next steps for achieving full equality in Florida. The evening includes a silent auction, and guests will be treated to jazz by music major students from Florida Southwestern State College, a performance by Tropical Storm, a men’s ensemble that is both welcoming and affirming, sumptuous hors d’oeuvres provided by Ada’s Natural Market, cocktails and dancing.

Arlene-GoldbergA highlight of the Black & White Ball is the presentation of the Voice for Equality award to Arlene Goldberg, a true champion for equality.  In September, Arlene and her late wife, Carol Goldwasser, officially became the first same-sex couple whose marriage is recognized and respected by the State of Florida.

Together 47 years, Arlene and Carol married in 2011 in New York, but the State of Florida refused to list Arlene as “spouse” on Carol’s death certificate.  Despite her unfathomable grief, Arlene demanded that her marriage to Carol Goldwasser be recognized in Florida. She joined as a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits challenging the ban on marriage equality, and in September the judge ordered the State to change the death certificate to recognize their marriage, albeit posthumously.

“Arlene is an inspiration to all,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida.  “At a time of deep sadness, she refused to sit back and be complacent in the face of discrimination.  And while she achieved victory for recognition of her own marriage, she continues to stand with pride and unwavering determination to fight for the right for all same-sex couples in Florida.”


Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization in the state dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The organization has worked closely with government, business and community leaders in both Monroe and Lee Counties and across the state, providing support and advocating for fair business practices and non-discrimination policies.

For further information or to purchase tickets, visit and For telephone assistance, call (305) 335-2012 (Tavernier) or (407) 451-5460 (Fort Myers).