Pam Bondi named as part of Trump’s impeachment legal team

By : Samantha Neely
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Pam Bondi was named Jan. 17 as a part of  President Donald Trump’s legal team for his upcoming impeachment trial.   

Bondi will join the likes of former law professor and O.J. Simpson attorney Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation of former President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment, according to an anonymous source with the Associated Press. 

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First week of the Florida legislative session and Republican lawmakers introduce 4 anti-LGBTQ bills

By : Samantha Neely
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Hours before the 2020 legislative deadline, seven Florida Republican lawmakers submitted four anti-LGBTQ bills on Jan. 13.  

The lawmakers, which include Rep. Anthony Sabatini, Sen. Dennis Baxley, Rep. Byron Donalds, Rep. Michael Grant, Sen. Joe Gruters, Rep. Bob Rommel and Sen. Keith Perry, all came together to introduce the bills that each included a companion bill in the House and Senate.  

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Bills seek to end ‘conversion therapy’ in Kentucky

By : wire report
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ABOVE: State Rep. Lisa Willner (L) attends Pride in 2019. Photo via Willner’s Facebook page.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) | Twice a week for four years when he was in high school, gay student Zach Meiners underwent “conversion therapy,” a practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Once the sessions ended, it took almost 10 years before he started “to heal and learn to love” himself, Meiners said Tuesday during a rally to promote bills that would effectively ban conversion therapy in Kentucky.

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‘Ugly Betty’ co-creator Silvio Horta dies in Miami at 45

By : Wire Report
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ABOVE: Silvio Horta in 2017. (Photo from Horta’s Facebook)

MIAMI (AP) – Award-winning producer Silvio Horta, who was acclaimed for creating the hit series “Ugly Betty,” has died. He was 45.

Investigators believe Horta died by suicide at a Miami hotel Jan. 7, the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner said Jan. 8.

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2019 was a year for the LGBTQ record books

By : Jeremy Williams & Ryan Williams-Jent
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Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Of course not! That’s why after a historical 365 days, Watermark has assembled our annual year in review.

2019 was a landmark year for us here at Watermark. In August, we proudly celebrated 25 years of serving Central Florida and Tampa Bay’s ever-expanding LGBTQ communities.

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For Florida, 2010s became a decade of mass shootings

By : Wire Report
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) | For Florida, the 2010s were a decade of high-profile mass shootings: at a nightclub, a high school, an airport and a naval base — plus two headline-grabbing murder trials that ended in acquittals.

Florida passed New York to become the nation’s third-most populous state. Meanwhile, in politics, Rick Scott began 2010 as a near-unknown, was elected governor 11 months later and eventually defeated U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. That ended one of Florida’s longest political careers. Donald Trump smothered the 2016 presidential aspirations of former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio. Trump took the White House and then became a Florida resident.

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Greater Fort Lauderdale to host inaugural Pride of the Americas

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Pride Fort Lauderdale’s Pride of the Americas team marches at WorldPride. Photo via Pride Fort Lauderdale’s Facebook page.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. | The Greater Fort Lauderdale area will host the inaugural Pride of the Americas on April 21-26, 2020, organizers have shared.

Pride of the Americas will be presented by Pride Fort Lauderdale, the oldest Pride celebration in the state of Florida. The organization began in 1977 from protests after a successful public referendum to overturn a gay rights ordinance in Miami-Dade County.

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Florida advocacy groups, nonprofits file brief urging appeal court to protect HROs

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Two women were denied access to Rachel’s Orlando because they were not accompanied by a man. (Image from Google Maps)

ORLANDO | Equality Florida, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and The Impact Fund led a coalition of statewide civil rights groups and nonprofit organizations in filing an amicus brief Dec. 17 urging Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal to reverse a trial court ruling against Orange County’s Human Rights Ordinance (HRO).

The brief requests the court to reverse the ruling in Yanes v. O C Food and Beverage, LLC. The sex discrimination lawsuit alleged Orlando resident Brittney Smith and friend Anita Yanes were denied access to Rachel’s Orlando, a local business described on its website as a “World Class Men’s Club & Steak House,” in February 2018 because they did not have a male to escort them in. According to the lawsuit, Rachel’s policy requires women to be accompanied by a male companion which the brief says violates Orange County’s HRO.

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Homophobic graffiti found on Palm Bay business windows

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: The partly illegible graffiti was spray-painted on Tizmal’s Treats.

PALM BAY, Florida | LGBTQ-owned shop Tizmal’s Treats was defaced earlier this month with homophobic graffiti.

Though the graffiti is partly unintelligible and riddled with misspellings, it is clear that homophobic slurs were spray-painted on the business’ window and front door.

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Federal court considers bathroom use by transgender student

By : wire report
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ATLANTA (AP) | A student has the right to use the bathroom that corresponds to his gender identity, a lawyer told a federal court Thursday, arguing that the issue is about the right of transgender students to “equal dignity.”

But the Florida school district that’s appealing a lower court order in favor of the transgender boy told three judges on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that they should overturn the ruling and let the school district restrict students to the bathroom matching their at-birth sex to protect the privacy of other students.

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A trans woman’s journey to activism

By : Alec Reynolds
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Would constant fear of harassment and assault motivate or defeat you? Would you turn inward, mentally tucking yourself away on the outskirts of society if you felt unloved and unappreciated in almost every instance of your life? If you felt that your mere existence made others feel uncomfortable, could you still love yourself?

These are the struggles faced by many transgender women of color in the United States and across the world every day. Transgender women of color are engulfed in fear of becoming the next statistic in the American transgender murder epidemic. Violent deaths in Dallas, Jacksonville, Kansas City and across the nation often instill a sense of perpetual panic.

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Florida lawmakers file bills to expand hate crime law for 2020

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: State Rep. Joe Geller (L), who filed HB 655, and state Sen. Kevin Radar, who filed SB 940, hope to expand Florida’s hate crime law in 2020.

Lawmakers in both the Florida House and Senate filed joint bills this month ahead of the state’s 2020 Legislative session that would expand Florida’s current hate crime laws to include gender, gender identity and physical disability. The bills would also add “association with” and “mixed motive” hate crimes to the current law.

Senate Bill (SB) 940, called the Crimes Evidencing Prejudice bill, was filed by state Sen. Kevin Radar (D-Boca Raton) on Nov. 14 and House Bill (HB) 655, called the Offenses Evidencing Prejudice bill, was filed by state Rep. Joseph Geller (D-Miami/Dade) with Rep. Rick Stark (D-Weston) and Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) on Nov. 15.

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