LGBTQ group cancels, refunds Fabián Basabe’s tickets for ‘Champions of Equality’ gala
Image via Florida House.

Fabian Basabe Florida House
It's not the first time organizers of an LGBTQ event deemed the freshman state lawmaker unwelcome.

Embattled Miami Beach Rep. Fabián Basabe was persona non grata at a Sunday night gala celebrating people and organizations that have “significantly advanced” LGBTQ equality throughout the Sunshine State.

The freshman Republican lawmaker bought a pair of $250 tickets one day earlier for the 2023 SAVE Champions of Equality Awards Gala, which took place in his district in Miami Beach.

SAVE, the Miami-based group hosting the event, swiftly canceled the sale and issued him a refund.

“Was this a mistake?” he wrote in an email Saturday to outgoing SAVE Executive Director Orlando Gonzales.

“I really hope this was not political. It is important that members of the community know I show up for them with a willingness to listen and learn so we may work together and serve the needs of people.”

He added, “People are misinformed and confused resulting in pain, hatred and suicide — especially our youth! We cannot afford more of the same. I remain available to work together.”

Florida Politics contacted Gonzales. He declined to comment. But an Orlando Sentinel opinion column he wrote in late April indicated it had to do with Basabe’s voting record.

Basabe, a wealthy socialite-turned-politician, narrowly won office last year as a moderate Republican after securing some support by pledging to defend the rights of the LGBTQ community, of which he has said he’s a member.

In recent months, he has drawn condemnation and jeers from many who say he’s done the opposite.

He cast a “yes” vote to expand a measure critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, and supported another bill imposing strict penalties for admitting minors to “live, lewd performance,” a measure critics say will have a chilling effect on drag and burlesque performers and the venues that host them.

He also supported a bill that will allow health care providers and insurers to deny medical care based on religious, moral or ethical beliefs.

In his column for the Sentinel, Gonzales decried the “recent surge in anti-LGBTQ legislation,” singling out the three aforementioned bills, which he said are “setting a dangerous precedent nationally.”

“We have seen an alarming increase in hateful rhetoric surrounding our community, particularly from the Governor’s Office, the state Legislature, and the state’s educational and medical boards,” he wrote. “Of course, even a single anti-LGBTQ law can have devastating effects, and it is distressing to witness states like Florida setting the trend for an increasing number and intensity of anti-LGBTQ bills.”

Basabe is now under investigation for allegedly slapping an aide in January — an incident he denies happened, not dissimilar to what he said in 2019 when an Art Basel publicist said he called her the “N-word” and a “whore” after being removed from a party.

Calls for his resignation started coming last month, when he was booed at Miami Beach’s annual Pride parade.

Of note, his exclusion from the SAVE gala was not the first time organizers of an LGBTQ event deemed him unwelcome. In August 2021, he was escorted out of the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus’ “Let’s Get Loud” summer conference shortly after he introduced himself over a microphone. He received a refund then, too.

But he suggested the snub this past weekend was part of a larger vendetta against him.

“It is no secret that, during my successful run for state Representative, Mr. Gonzales refused my campaign access to the organization’s base, knowing I was seeking neither endorsement nor support, but rather access to educate myself in order to do a better job for the benefit (of) those in my district and in an effort to put my best foot forward in representing those of a diverse community I care for deeply,” he said.

“Censorship and cancel culture by those posturing with miniscule local political power have stepped beyond their boundaries once again.”

Basabe is facing a challenge in 2024 from Democrat Joe Saunders, who made history in 2012 as one of the first openly gay members of the Legislature. For nearly a decade since, he has worked as the political director of the LGBGT advocacy group, Equality Florida.

Saunders, who served a single, two-year term in the House before losing his re-election bid, said residents of House District 106 — which covers a coastal strip of Miami-Dade County between Miami Beach and Aventura — “deserve better” representation in Tallahassee.

New polling data shows Saunders is hardly alone in that belief. An email survey of 1,376 registered voters in HD 106 produced a staggering low 3.73% favorability rating for Basabe.

Despite that, 14% of those polled said they would still vote for the incumbent if an election were held today.

Thirty-three percent said they’d back Saunders.

Honorees at the 2023 SAVE Champions of Equality Awards Gala included film producer Maria Bures, lawyer and philanthropist Don Hayden, lawyer and activist Maryana Lukacs, South Miami PFLAG founder and President Jennifer Solomon and Glen Weinzimer, founder and Chair of The SMART Ride.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • corruption and abuse of power in Florida

    May 16, 2023 at 6:53 pm

    The Florida in GOP legislators are about to find out. Did they made the biggest mistake of the political careers? They’ve expressed nothing but hate towards so many communities within the state of Florida. And they wear it like a badge of honor like they’re doing something good when it actually they’re doing something very evil.

  • Don’t Look Up

    May 16, 2023 at 8:25 pm

    Fabian needs to align his voting record with his desire to listen! ARE YOU LISTENING FABIAN? Republicans have a tough time looking in the mirror and not lying to themselves!

  • Chris

    May 16, 2023 at 8:31 pm

    Representative Basabe has a hard job of apparently… to please everyone.
    In my view he’s doing a great job bringing money back to his district. He’s NOT anti-LGBTQ! Actually the famous “Don’t Say Gay Bill” (Parental Rights in Education Bill) was already there when he took office and no one talks about the work he did put on this bill. Read the bill guys… the latest version of this controversial bill DOES NOT ATTACK THE LGBTQ+ community.
    BILL !
    Go straight to the source instead of trusting in headlines promoted generally from Leftist.
    I’m a Democrat and I’m embarrassed to see all these negative comments and contents coming out attacking even his personal life.
    People need to chill and read more before screaming their opinions out there.
    I voted for Mr. Basabe and he can count on my support for the next one.
    Thank you

    • Lourdes

      May 17, 2023 at 12:11 am

      Stop lying. Basabe has brought next to nothing back to his district. He even defunded the Holocaust Memorial. His district has been the most underfunded of the county, and in history. You are no Democrat. You are free to register in any party. Your views are what define you.

Comments are closed.


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