Norm Kent Obituary, Death – Attorney Norm Kent, a tireless advocate for marijuana and LGBT rights, baseball lover, prominent radio talk show host, and co-founder of South Florida Gay News, died on April 13 at the age of 73, 18 months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Kent informed SFGN in his final interview on March 28 that he would be diagnosed in October 2021. “I said that day, ‘Let’s fly to Atlanta and watch a Dodgers game.'” We’re going to a baseball game if they tell me I have cancer.” “You definitely can’t accuse him of not being interesting,” said Fort Lauderdale attorney Russell Cormican, Kent’s law partner for nearly 25 years.
“The most important thing looking at Norm’s legacy is that he reminds us how important it is to stand up for what you believe in, no matter how unpopular it might be or what types of repercussions or blowback you might get from people, if you know what you’re doing is the right thing,” said Cormican, 51. “When he sees an injustice, he doesn’t hesitate to lead the charge against it.” That has been the connecting thread throughout his life.” Norman Elliott Kent was born on October 18, 1949, in Brooklyn, New York, and his family immediately relocated to North Woodmere, Nassau County, Long Island.
“I was a good, competitive baseball player since I was a little kid growing up in North Woodmere and taking Bus 53 to junior varsity games.” “The doctor once told me that I had steel springs in my legs,” Kent explained. “I really enjoyed the game. I like it now because you never know what will happen on the next pitch. It is not scripted in the manner of a film. You never know what the next joke will be, just like a comedian.” Kent outfitted his little, two-bedroom Victoria Park home with 16 televisions so he would never miss a game.
“It looks like mission control,” observed Cormican. “God forbid there are four baseball games playing at the same time. He has to see them all.” He even had his own baseball card business, Norm Kent’s Baseball Heaven, at the Gateway Shopping Center in Fort Lauderdale thirty years ago. Kent, who is survived by his older brother Richard and younger brother Alan, had considered becoming a professional baseball player until their father Jesse informed him, “You’re going to be the lawyer in the family.”
Kent made his father happy by receiving a Hofstra law degree in 1975 after graduating from Hofstra University on Long Island in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and sociology. During his college years, Kent established a national reputation as a strong proponent of marijuana legalization. In 1971, Kent became a member of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He was on NORML’s national board from 1992 to 1994, rejoined the governing body in 1998, and served as national board chairman from 2013 to 2014.
Kent made news in 1988 when he represented singer Elvy Musikka, a Hollywood woman severely blinded by cataracts who was caught for cultivating marijuana in her own backyard. “After 23 different operations for cataracts,” Kent recounted on March 28, “she discovered that the only thing that allowed her to see was by taking marijuana.” It included THC, which allowed her to see.” “Who was her government, or the president, to stop her from seeing?” he continued. And when the cops arrived to her house in Hollywood and said we’re going to have to arrest you for smoking pot, she answered, ‘I dare you to. I don’t mind. This is my life. It is my right to observe.’
“She consulted a lawyer.” She came to me. And I suggested that we go to court. We won a case in [Broward Circuit Court] before Judge Mark E. Polen. He stated that your freedom to smoke marijuana is far more important than the government’s right to tell you what you can and cannot do with it. That case served as a model for hundreds of others.” Kent himself couldn’t find pain relief while dying of cancer by smoking marijuana: “No,” he stated, “I had a respiratory condition in 2018 when I got a defibrillator and pacemaker.”
Kent worked briefly as an urban affairs analyst for the New York Legislature after college, and moved to South Florida with his parents in 1978. Kent never officially revealed to them that he was gay. “My parents always suspected he was gay from the time he moved to Fort Lauderdale,” said his retired psychologist brother Alan. “They would always ask me,’Do you think Norman is gay?'” Alan Kent, who is also gay, revealed his sexual orientation to his parents in 1982. After their father died five years later, Norm called Alan from Provincetown, Massachusetts, with some bad news: I’m gay. “Really?” I asked. “Tell me something I’m not aware of,” Alan Kent recalled. Before his death, Norm Kent stated that “there was no such thing as being in [the closet].” “There was always this fear that being a gay lawyer would cost me financially,” Kent explained. “But there I was, a gay lawyer who was representing gay bars, gay friends, and gay owners.”