The Last Page: Jessica Thomas, Thomas Law Firm, PLLC

By : Jeremy Williams
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The Last Page is dedicated to individuals who are making a positive impact on the LGBTQ community in Central Florida and Tampa Bay.

This issue, we check in with owner of Thomas Law Firm, PLLC, Jessica Thomas from Central Florida. Keep an eye on this space to learn more about the movers and shakers of your community.

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Trump admin to allow adoption agencies to refuse placement in LGBTQ homes

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Donald Trump, Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.

The Trump administration is moving forward with a proposed regulation that will allow taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to refuse placement into LGBT families over religious objections.

The Department of Health & Human Services went public on Friday with the regulation, which will undo an Obama-era policy prohibiting discrimination discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation among federal grantees.

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Catholic adoption agency refusing to certify LGBTQ homes wins in court

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A federal judge has in ruled in favor of a taxpayer-funded Catholic adoption agency in Michigan refusing to certify LGBTQ couples as qualified to take children into their homes.

U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker, a George W. Bush appointee, issued a preliminary injunction Sept. 26 in favor of St. Vincent, a faith-based non-profit based in Lansing, Mich., concluding the state is targeting the agency for its religious beliefs.

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Court: Adoption agency can’t reject same-sex couples

By : wire report
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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) | A federal court says New York officials weren’t infringing on a Christian adoption agency’s religious freedom by requiring it to serve same-sex couples.

A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Albany in December sought to stop the state Office of Children and Family Services from shutting down New Hope Family Services in Syracuse because of its “discriminatory” policy regarding child placements.

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South Florida judge who ruled on gay adoption case set to retire

By : Wire Report
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MIAMI | For the past three years, Judge Cindy Lederman has walked by a half-dozen statues of playful bear cubs every day on her way up to her high-ceilinged, top-floor office looking out toward Miami’s waterfront. On a shelf behind her desk, below rows of glass awards and family photos, sit two teddy bears. In six months, she’ll take them with her and walk past the statues for the last time.

The stuffed bears are from a program the retiring judge helped start 20 years ago to give every child who came to juvenile court a teddy bear. The building, Miami-Dade County’s three-year-old children’s courthouse, and its bear statutes — meant to be played with by those same unlucky children who find themselves needing court hearings — were a project she began working on with colleagues more than a decade ago to replace Miami-Dade’s previous and notoriously horrible children’s courthouse.

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Gays on strike in Israel over exclusion from surrogacy law

By : wire report
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TEL AVIV, Israel (AP)| Hundreds of Israeli LGBT advocates and their supporters are on strike, protesting the exclusion of gay men from a recently passed surrogacy law.

Protesters marched in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities on July 22, waving rainbow flags and briefly blocking a major highway.

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House panel approves ‘religious freedom’ anti-LGBTQ adoption amendment

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) introduced a “religious freedom” anti-LGBTQ adoption amendment. Photo via public domain.

A House committee approved on Wednesday as part of major appropriations legislation an amendment seen to allow taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny placement into LGBTQ families over religious objections.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), would bar the federal government and state or localities from denying funds to adoption agencies that have “declined or will decline to provide, facilitate or refer for a child welfare service that conflicts with, or under circumstances that conflict with, the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs of convictions.”

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Tech Giants Apple, Google oppose Kansas adoption bill

By : wire report
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Tech giants Google and Apple oppose adoption legislation in Kansas that many in the LGBTQ community consider discriminatory.

An organization of more than 80 companies called TechNet sent legislators a letter Friday calling the measure a “license to discriminate.” The organization includes Google and Apple.

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House rejects bill letting agencies refuse LGBT adoptions

By : wire report
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has rejected a bill that would have allowed adoption and foster care contractors to refuse placements to gay and lesbian couples based on religious grounds.

The Wichita Eagle reports that the House voted down the measure Thursday, hours after the state Senate approved nearly identical legislation. The bill now goes to a conference committee, where lawmakers from the House and the Senate will negotiate a final bill.

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Ex-Kentucky judge reprimanded for stance on gay adoptions

By : wire report
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky judge who raised moral objections to handling adoption cases involving same-sex couples has quit the bench, but he still received a rebuke from a judicial disciplinary commission.

Former Judge W. Mitchell Nance was publicly reprimanded Tuesday by the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission. The commission said that was the only sanction available due to Nance’s previously announced retirement, which took effect last Saturday.

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Why having a family is easier than ever for Central Florida and Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ couples

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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When Randy Lowe met Joshua Melendez five years ago, both men were entering their 50s. “I just kind of assumed that having a family wasn’t going to be an option for me,” says Randy, who runs the event coordinating business Lowe and Behold, and had recently lost his partner, Jason, to brain cancer. At the time, Joshua had been taking care of two young boys occasionally on weekends to give their single mother a break to run errands or have a moment to herself.

Randy loved having the boys around. It was then that the couple realized they wanted kids. “I thought, ‘Wow. This is really beautiful to have these little boys with us,’” says Randy. He decided that if he and Joshua ended up together, he wanted to pursue options to have a family of his own.

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Issue 24.23: We Are Family

By : Jake Stevens
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Why having a family is easier than ever for Central Florida and Tampa Bay LGBTQ couples, MBA Orlando holds its Pride Gala, Mayor Kriseman wins re-election in St. Pete, local news, celebrity interviews, photos, events and much, much more!

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