S. Korean military decides to discharge transgender soldier

By : Wire Report
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ABOVE: Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Laurie Nevay, from Wikimedia Commons)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) | South Korea’s military decided Jan. 22 to discharge a soldier who recently undertook gender reassignment surgery, a ruling expected to draw strong criticism from human rights groups.

It was the first time in South Korea that an active-duty member has been referred to a military panel to determine whether to end his or her service due to a sex change operation. South Korea prohibits transgender people from joining the military but has no specific laws on what to do with those who have sex change operations during their time in service.

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Watermark’s 2020 WAVE Awards Final Round – Tampa Bay

By : Watermark Staff
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Our WAVEs 2020 vision has gotten a bit clearer. You nominated, we counted and now we have your Top 3!

The Watermark Awards for Variety and Excellence, or the WAVEs as we call them, recognize the best in Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ community in the areas of activism, service, entertainment and more. In each category, we asked our readers to write in who best represents the values of the LGBTQ community in your area. You have spoken and here is the final round. Now tell us your favorite from the Top 3.

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Watermark’s 2020 WAVE Awards Final Round – VOTE NOW

By : Watermark Staff
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Our WAVEs 2020 vision has gotten a bit clearer. You nominated, we counted and now we have your Top 3!

The Watermark Awards for Variety and Excellence, or the WAVEs as we call them, recognize the best in Central Florida and Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ community in the areas of activism, service, entertainment and more. In each category, we asked our readers to write in who best represents the values of the LGBTQ community in your area. You have spoken and here is the final round. Now tell us your favorite from the Top 3.

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Watermark’s 2020 WAVE Awards Final Round – Central Florida

By : Watermark Staff
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Our WAVEs 2020 vision has gotten a bit clearer. You nominated, we counted and now we have your Top 3!

The Watermark Awards for Variety and Excellence, or the WAVEs as we call them, recognize the best in Central Florida’s LGBTQ community in the areas of activism, service, entertainment and more. In each category, we asked our readers to write in who best represents the values of the LGBTQ community in your area. You have spoken and here is the final round. Now tell us your favorite from the Top 3.

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Discredited conversion therapy banned in conservative Utah

By : Wire Report
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ABOVE: Utah State Capitol, photo public domain.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) | The discredited practice of conversion therapy for LGBTQ children is now banned in Utah, making it the 19th state and one of the most conservative to prohibit it.

Supporters navigated a winding path to passage and some dissent remains, but barring it in Utah could give a boost to similar efforts in other right-leaning states, said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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Warren pledges a Cabinet half-filled with women and non-binary people

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, photo via Warren’s Facebook page.

With weeks remaining before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren has come out with a pledge to fill half of her Cabinet as president with women and non-binary people.

Warren made the pledge within a Medium post on Tuesday titled, “Restoring Integrity & Competence to Government After Trump,” which says Trump will “leave behind a government that has been infected by corruption and incompetence” upon his presumed exit from the White House after the 2020 election and outlines her plans.

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Hallmark media CEO leaves, month after same-sex ad backlash

By : wire report
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ABOVE: Bill Abbott, photo via Twitter.

NEW YORK (AP) | The head of Hallmark’s media business is leaving the company after 11 years, just a month after its flagship Hallmark Channel faced an outcry over a decision to pull an ad with a lesbian couple kissing.

No reason was given for Bill Abbott’s departure, and no replacement was immediately named.

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The Tender Activist: Tips for surviving the political season

By : Scottie Campbell
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I’ll admit it. There are still people who I look at to this day and have a flashback to the 2016 election cycle and have to talk myself through not thinking of them as an idiot. Maybe you can relate: the choice seemed quite clear to me and I was repeatedly flummoxed by my friends and family not being able to see it. And here we are and it’s thanks to these idiots. Alright, they’re not idiots, but I have to talk myself through it.

I’ve shared in these pages how I cautiously approached this election, because the tender in my column’s name is no joke. I’m a fighter, don’t get me wrong, but my heart usually wins in the postmortem: Was that worth it? I truly am not sure. I tried last time around to engage and share and discuss. I worked harder to promote my candidate than ever before; I believed strongly. My behavior wasn’t always the best, I remember one inglorious exchange that ended with me telling the person to go fuck themselves. I’m not sure if they actually took my advice because they don’t talk to me anymore. As my marketing and public relations colleagues would say: It wasn’t a good look.

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Watermark’s Wedding Bell: Kevin Ligad and Nate Rohenkohl

By : Lora Korpar
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Kevin Ligad proposed to husband Nate Rohenkohl in front of the Eiffel Tower using the magic of numbers.

Nate said that though the couple were in one of the most romantic cities in the world, he never expected Kevin to get down on his knee right as the tower lit up and say “It’s been 1,830 days since we met, 1,700 days since we started dating and 1,550 days since I first told you I loved you – and now I want to spend every single day of the rest of my life with you.”

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01.23.2020 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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I went to a small, Southern Baptist college in Mars Hill, North Carolina. It was definitely a culture shock. I considered myself a religion-wary, big city boy from Central Florida. Is that even an accurate statement for Orlando in 1993? There were still orange groves everywhere I walked and the East-West Expressway was just two lanes each way, with 25 cent tolls. Although, we had Blockbuster which was more than Mars Hill could boast. Mars Hill was a two-stoplight kind of town.

I didn’t hate it though, in retrospect I loved it. College is where I gained my passion for musical theater. I had the opportunity to stage manage a musical called “American Beauty.” It was a spoof on beauty pageants, but it made my sappy, young, gay heart melt.

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The Last Page: Samantha Ponzillo, photographer / filmmaker

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Last Page is dedicated to individuals who are making a positive impact on the LGBTQ community in Central Florida and Tampa Bay.

This issue, we check in with Samantha Ponzillo Media owner and #HashtagLunchbag Sarasota co-organizer Samantha Ponzillo. Keep an eye on this space to learn more about the movers and shakers of your community.

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Central Florida native Michael James Scott heads back to Agrabah (and Orlando) to play the Genie in ‘Disney’s Aladdin’

By : Jeremy Williams
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Michael James Scott has run the gamut when it comes to appearing on Broadway. He has been in “Mamma Mia!,” “Hair,” “Elf,” “Something Rotten!” and “The Book of Mormon” to name a few, but there is one role above all that he is most associated with — “Aladdin’s” Genie.

“I call it my ‘Genie journey,’” Scott says. “I never expected it to be a part of my life for this length of time and for it to literally take me all around the world.”

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