South Florida gay man claims Lyft driver pulled gun, shouted homophobic slurs

By : Jaime Donelson
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MIAMI | A South Florida gay man is claiming his Lyft driver pulled a gun on him and shouted homophobic slurs while he was on the way to a friend’s office in downtown Miami Nov. 15, according to NBC 6.

After placing two large boxes in the back seat of the Lyft driver’s car, Andres Berreondo says he sat in the passenger seat next to the driver.

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Shalala elected to succeed Ros-Lehtinen in Fla.

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Democrat Donna Shalala on Nov. 6 defeated Republican María Elvira Salazar in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

Shalala defeated Salazar by a 52-46 percent margin.

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The 2018 Amendment Guide

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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This year’s ballot lists 12 potential amendments to the Florida Constitution. Only two of those were proposed by Florida’s citizens, including Amendment 4. It is the only amendment Equality Florida has taken a stance on, advising that the eligibility to vote is fundamental to democracy and that voting yes “is the first step in helping LGBTQ people with former convictions.”

For more information about 2018’s proposed amendments, read on below.

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Equality-focused organizations, candidates and voters hope to turn the tide Nov. 6

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The LGBTQ vote matters. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)—the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization—it made up five percent of the electorate in 2016’s general election.

The organization stresses that LGBTQ voters were one of the few voting blocs to increase its turnout following 2012’s cycle, noting one critical element. “Here’s the key thing to remember,” HRC President Chad Griffin tells Watermark. “Because we are intentionally excluded from the census—the Trump-Pence administration eliminated what would have been a census that included us—we know that number by independent exit polling data.

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Hurricane Michael devastates Fla. Panhandle’s LGBT community

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Members of the Florida Panhandle’s LGBT community are trying to pick up the pieces from Hurricane Michael that devastated the region earlier this month.

The LGBTQ Center of Bay County, which board secretary Cherie Crim described to the Washington Blade on Oct. 22 during a telephone interview as Bay County’s “first safe space” for LGBT youth, rented a room at an Episcopal church in Panama City.

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Sarasota Pride holds 29th annual celebration

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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SARASOTA | Sarasota Pride will hold PrideFest 2018 at J.D. Hamel Park on Oct. 20, a “Rainbow Resistance” for the organization’s 29th annual celebration.

Sarasota Pride exists to promote the elimination of prejudice and discrimination as well as to defend civil rights secured by law. The nonprofit aims to promote visibility and self-esteem among the LGBTQ community in Sarasota and throughout Florida, something the organization says it does by sponsoring events year-round.

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Openly gay Florida State diver Aidan Faminoff named ACC Diver of the Week

By : Christen Kelley
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Aidan Faminoff, an openly gay competitive diver at Florida State University, received the ACC Diver of the Week award Oct. 8.

This is Faminoff’s first Diver of the Week honor of his career, following his first springboard victory in the one-meter against Georgia Tech on Oct. 6. Faminoff also placed fourth against Pittsburgh.

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Florida plans to build first affordable housing project for elderly LGBTQ residents

By : Melanie Ararat
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South Florida plans to follow the lead of Los Angeles and Chicago by building the state’s first affordable housing project for elderly LGBTQ residents in Wilton Manors, Fla.

South Florida is a popular settlement for retirees—both LGBTQ and straight—but the myth of LGBTQ couples being wealthy and leading lavish lifestyles isn’t backed up by the numbers, experts say.

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HRC gives a perfect score to Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg in annual ratings

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced Oct. 8 that Orlando, St. Petersburg and Tampa each received a perfect score of 100 in the organization’s seventh annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI).

The report examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are for LGBTQ people who live and work in each city rated by the organization. The score is based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality.

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LGBTQ groups gather in South Florida to announce Gillum for Governor endorsements

By : Jeremy Williams
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MIAMI | Three LGBTQ organizations—one local, one statewide and one national—gathered at the CIC in Miami Sept. 24 to jointly announce their support for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in his bid to become Florida’s next governor.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) joined with Equality Florida, the state’s largest civil rights organization, and SAVE, a South Florida LGBTQ advocacy group, to commit working together to secure full equality for Florida’s LGBTQ community, according to an HRC press release.

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Christina Aguilera opens comeback tour with gay proposal

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Christina Aguilera kicked off her “Liberation” tour at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Fla. Sept. 25, her first tour in over a decade, by helping a gay man propose to his partner.

Aguilera closed out her set with the song “Unless It’s With You” from her new album “Liberation.” The lyrics include “I don’t want to get married, unless it’s with you.” She donned a white dress for the wedding-themed song.

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Fifth black transgender woman murdered in Florida this year

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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North Port, Fla. | North Port police are investigating the murder of Londonn Moore, 20, the fifth known black transgender homicide victim found in Florida this year.
Moore’s body was discovered Sept. 8, miles from her hometown of Port Charlotte in a remote area of Sarasota County’s North Port. Local outlets and law enforcement have repeatedly misgendered Moore and utilized her dead name, prompting criticism from community advocates.

Equality Florida and other national organizations released a call for urgent action Sept. 14, citing the 2018 Florida murders of Sasha Garden, Cathalina Christina James, Antash’a English and Celine Walker. Along with Moore, their deaths account for a quarter of all reported anti-transgender murders nationwide.

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