State Representative David Richardson declares victory against conversion therapy in south Florida House district

By : Billy Manes
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Tallahassee – Gay state Rep. David Richardson took a stance early in this legislative session against so-called conversion therapy, the anti-LGBTQ means of “correcting” behaviors of the gay community. House Bill 273 presents a strong statement against the psychological manipulation of LGBTQ youth by therapists, arguing that conversion therapy – which can often include electric-shock therapy – must not be used on minors. In 2015, President Barack Obama made it clear that the nation, under his administration, would not accept “reparative” therapy, due to its destructive effects on patients.

“We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer youth,” his department said in a statement. “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

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After 2 years, Florida court defines sexual intercourse

By : Wire Report
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) It took two years and three dictionaries, but the Florida Supreme Court finally determined Thursday that “sexual intercourse” isn’t just between a man and a woman.

The question arose during a case in which a man was charged with a third-degree felony for failing to reveal to his male partner that he was HIV-positive. His lawyer argued before the state’s high court in February 2015 that Florida laws were so narrowly defined that “sexual intercourse” didn’t apply to sexual activity between same-sex partners or any activity beyond traditional sex.

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Two state legislators aim to scrub contentious gun legislation from the Florida books

By : Billy Manes
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It may have seemed like a non-issue, especially considering that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled it unconstitutional just last month, but two Florida legislators are making a point of removing the controversial Firearm Owner’s Privacy Act from the state’s statutes. The law, passed in 2011, was television news fodder for weeks, as it challenged the ability of doctors to speak with patients about weapons in their homes. In 2011, a couple complained about being asked by their doctor about having firearms in their home. The confusion arose between limits on free speech and the Second Amendment. But it’s more than that, says state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, who just filed HB 6033 in tandem with Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Broward.

“It’s really important, because guns are a major cause of death and suicide,” Smith says. “Doctors simply ask about the common sense of their patients, like they ask about cleaning products, about chemicals in their pools. The fact that the Florida Legislature irresponsibly passed the first law of its kind is not only unconstitutional, it’s irresponsible.”

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Arrest made in Key West hate crime, gay-bashing attack

By : Jeremy Williams
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Police arrested a North Carolina man accused of committing a hate crime against a gay couple in Key West.

The Miami Herald reports that Brandon Ray Davis, 30, was taken into custody by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office in Richlands, N.C., Davis’ hometown, March 1.

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Drunken man hurls slurs at gay couple in Key West

By : Wire Report
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KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) – Police in Florida say a drunken man on a scooter hurled slurs and taunts at a gay couple in Key West.

A Key West police report says it happened early last Thursday morning as 38-year-old Kevin Seymour and 49-year-old Kevin Paul Taylor rode their bicycles down a street.

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Jacksonville City Council finally approves Human Rights Ordinance

By : Billy Manes
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JACKSONVILLE – It was a Valentine’s Day to remember as the Jacksonville City Council, after years of effort, pushed through additions to the already existing Human Rights Ordinance that will now recognize sexual orientation and gender identity. Specifically, the ordinance protects minorities in housing and employment, among other necessities, and more broadly signals a change in Jacksonville’s historically conservative culture.

“Jacksonville is such a conservative area. It really is part of the deep south in the way that most cities in Florida are not,” Equality Florida field director Amber Paoloemilio says. “There really is a tangible shift and it’s really because of the community we’ve been building over the past few years.

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Jacksonville passes inclusive nondiscrimination protections

By : Wire Report
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville City Council has voted to update the city’s civil rights laws to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Tuesday’s 12 to six vote was a victory for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. Mayor Lenny Curry said he will let it become law without his signature.

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Florida legislators bring Competitive Workforce Act back to the table

By : Billy Manes
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In a week that saw President Donald Trump’s administration vacillating between “yes” or “no” on support of a proposed federal religious freedom law (via executive order) that would permit discrimination based upon the religious affiliations of businesses, things could be taking an uptick at the Florida level. Though Trump’s executive order does in fact exist, stating a cornucopia of potential rights roll-backs that could bring adverse effects to everything from marriage to adoption, Trump has since promised to uphold President Obama’s executive order that forbids federal agencies from discriminating against LGBTQ citizens. The rest, by most reports, remains in flux.

However, Florida’s Competitive Workforce Act, which died last year in the Florida Senate, is back this year with bipartisan support in advance of the March legislative session in Tallahassee.

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Florida dispensaries aim to ‘normalize’ medical marijuana

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Vials of cannabis-laced sprays, lotions and tinctures line display shelves a few steps from handbags specially designed to tote marijuana products.

A stylish kitchenette and table is on the opposite side of this Surterra Wellness Center medical marijuana showroom, space used to host educational sessions on the merits of the drug — something legal only under very strict circumstances in Florida until Amendment 2 took effect last week.

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Case dropped in Florida man accused of threatening LGBTQ community

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WILTON MANORS, Fla. (AP) — Federal prosecutors are dropping the criminal case against a man accused of issuing a Facebook threat to “exterminate” gay people in South Florida.

The Sun-Sentinel reports the decision to drop the case against Craig Jungwirth comes about six weeks after prosecutors publicly acknowledged in court that the evidence against him was “weak.”

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Progressive Miami Beach Community Church deals with homophobic threats

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joseph-jorczak

Joseph Jorczak

MIAMI (AP) – Miami Beach Community Church saw helping Joseph Jorczak as central to its mission – providing a place for people with mental illness to commune with God.

Church leaders let Jorczak march with them in the city’s gay pride parade. They gave him food. When he got sick, they drove him to the hospital and prayed for him.

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Emboldened by Trump victory, new Florida legislature aims rightward

By : Billy Manes
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Though early reports of Florida’s arriving House of Representatives and Senate seem to indicate a kinder, gentler edge to proceedings – including more transparency, less nepotism, fewer spouses on airplanes during official business – at least one Democratic legislator isn’t really convinced. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who was officially elected to represent east Orlando this fall, making him the first Latino LGBTQ house representative to take that office, isn’t convinced.

“I think the Florida legislature is preparing to take a hard right turn,” he says. “They have been unapologetic already.”

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