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

By : Wire Report
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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

By : Wire Report
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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

By : Wire Report
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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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Florida Gov. may serve as a model, and warning, for Trump

By : Wire Report
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – He was opposed by the Republican establishment. During a contentious campaign he spoke forcefully about the need to crack down on immigration. And he used millions of his own money to bolster his political career.

President-elect Donald Trump? No, Rick Scott, the current governor of Florida.

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Local leaders weigh in on the way we were and the way we will be

By : Billy Manes
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Dumbfounded. Knocked out. Afraid. Broken. These are just a few of the things that many of us are feeling in the wake of Donald Trump’s historic rise to presidential power on Nov. 8.

If you’re anything like us, you have a lot of questions. You may have even been harassed already. We reached out to some of our best and brightest for answers, options, hope. And they provided just that. We’re not done yet. And so we rise. Here are some words from our friends. Stay strong.

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Clinton speaks to LGBTQ supporters in Wilton Manors

By : Wire Report
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WILTON MANORS, Fla. (AP) – Hillary Clinton vowed Oct. 30 that she would not be “knocked off course” in the election’s final days, as she sought to push past a new FBI email inquiry in a sexting probe that delivered a late jolt to her race against Republican Donald Trump.

“I’m not stopping now, we’re just getting warmed up,” Clinton declared during a packed rally with gay and lesbian supporters in battleground Florida. “We’re not going to be distracted, no matter what our opponents throw at us.”

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St. Petersburg, Orlando among cities to get top scores for LGBT residents

By : Wire Report
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ORLANDO (AP) — Three Florida cities have gotten the highest score possible on an index that measures the quality of life for gays, lesbians and transgender residents.

The gay rights group, Human Rights Campaign, last week gave Orlando, St. Petersburg and Wilton Manors scores of 100.

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Watermark’s LGBTQ Voter’s Guide 2016

By : Watermark Staff
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We made our list and checked it twice, and now Watermark’s endorsements are here.

We covered key national, state and local races as well as a few state constitutional amendments. Be sure to read our interviews with Florida House of Representatives hopeful’s Jennifer Webb in District 69 and Beth Tuura in District 47.

Don’t forget Election Day is Nov. 8 and early voting in Florida runs Oct. 24 – Nov. 6. On to the endorsements.

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Judge extends Florida’s voter registration to Oct. 18

By : Wire Report
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge extended voter registration until Oct. 18 in the battleground state of Florida Oct. 12, due to the disruption and damage from Hurricane Matthew.

During a hearing, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker agreed to extend the deadline for six more days. He had already extended the Oct. 11 deadline one day, after the Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit last weekend, following the hurricane’s brush with Florida’s east coast.

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Florida advocate fights HIV through social media

By : Wire Report
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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) – As she’s done hundreds of times, Maria Mejia stepped up to the podium, scanned the audience, took a deep breath and shared her story.

At 18, she learned she was HIV positive. By 28, she had AIDS. Those diagnoses eventually launched her on a mission to raise awareness about HIV prevention and the sometimes harsh realities of living with the virus.

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