Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus holds summer conference in Tampa

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: The Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus President Stephen Gaskill, Vice President Nik Harris, Secretary Dave Cutler and Treasurer Adam Sabin. Photo courtesy Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus’ Facebook page.

TAMPA | LGBTQ community activists, allies, elected officials and more will gather in Tampa July 19-21 for “Defining and Defending our LGBTQ Future,” the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus’ summer conference.

The caucus represents the LGBTQ community to Florida’s Democratic Party. The organization has nearly 20 statewide chapters—including Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas and Sarasota counties—all of which will be represented at the conference. Leaders advise the organization’s strength lies in its size and their local chapters, whose individual members stand up for equality statewide.

“We have two conferences a year, our summer and winter conferences,” LGBTA Democratic Caucus President Stephen Gaskill says. “We’re in Tampa because we really wanted to highlight what’s happening in Tampa Bay—it’s such a lively, vibrant area. Our theme is ‘Defining and Defending our LGBTQ Future’ because we’re looking at where we are as a party and a community coming out of 2018 and looking ahead to 2020.”

The conference will be held at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and begin with July 19’s welcome reception from 6:30-8:30 p.m., hosted by the caucus’ Hillsborough County chapter. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a conference sponsor, will speak.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, the city’s first openly LGBTQ mayor, will lead July 20’s morning session beginning at 8:30 a.m., welcoming officials including Gaskill, Hillsborough chapter president Dave Cutler and chair Les Miller, Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera and more. State Rep. Jennifer Webb, the first openly LGBTQ woman elected to the Florida legislature, will also lead “Why and How LGBTQ Candidates Should Run,” featuring Ruth’s List President Pamela Goodman and the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s Political Director Sean Meloy.

Nik Harris, the caucus’ vice president and the state’s first LGBTQ Consumer Advocate appointed by Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried, will lead “What’s Your Privilege” ahead of the afternoon session. Subsequent panels include “Hate Crimes in the LGBTQ Community” with former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner and “Protecting Our Vote” with the Voter Protection Project and ACLU, who will discuss the implementation of Florida Amendment 4.

The second evening will conclude with a leadership dinner and feature Commissioner Fried’s keynote address and a congressional keynote from U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist. A farewell brunch will close out the weekend July 21.

“We know that more and more communities are recognizing the LGBTQ community, not only from the number of Pride festivals we see or the number of Pride proclamations taking place, but from the number of ordinances protecting our community happening statewide,” Gaskill says. “We’re positive about the work that we’re doing—the Democratic agenda can move Florida forward.”

The caucus’ summer conference will be held July 19-21 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, located at 2900 Bayport Dr. To register, purchase tickets or for more information, visit the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus website.

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