We look back on 2018, a midterm year for a country that’s just living on a prayer

By : Jeremy Williams and Ryan Williams-Jent
Comments: 0

It’s been two years since we, as a country, entered into the reality that is the Trump Administration. The country feels more divided than ever and the phrases “fake news” and “it’s all a witch hunt” are commonplace.

The violence that seems to define who Americans are these days is also there, particularly in Florida, where there has been no justice for the five transgender women of color who were murdered and yet another mass shooting—this time at a high school in Parkland, Fla.—pulled the focus of the world to our state.

Continue Reading >>

Johnny Boykins: Pinellas County Young Democrats President, Pinellas County Democratic Party Vice Chair

By : Bobbi Lindaman
Comments: 0

In barely one year, Johnny took the Pinellas County Young Democrats (P.C.Y.D.) from a defunct group to a unified force in the Pinellas County Democratic Party. He took on the daunting task of keeping our members organized and motivated during a historically heated midterm election. While it was an uphill climb, I do not believe there is a single young Democrat who regrets the work we did on our state and local campaigns.

Johnny’s pragmatic approach to running the club always brought the focus of our work back home to real issues facing the people of this county. We knocked on countless doors, made phone calls and texts and reached out to minority groups in our community to engage them in the democratic process. We talked with residents about expanding health care, criminal justice reform, recognizing climate change, public education and more local issues like affordable housing, transportation, food security, gun reforms and engaging new and younger voters. 

Continue Reading >>

PHOTOS: Voting is the message of the night at Equality Florida’s Greater Orlando Gala

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 0

 

ORLANDO | Equality Florida had a huge turnout for its Greater Orlando Gala at the Orlando Museum of Art Nov. 2, and its message to everyone in attendance: “Get out and vote this Tuesday!”

The event was a who’s who of Central Florida’s LGBTQ, Democrat and progressive communities. The crowd watched as Pulse survivor and gun safety advocate Brandon Wolf was awarded the Voice For Equality Award and Michael Thomas of John Michael Exquisite Weddings and Events accepted the Equality Means Business Award.

Continue Reading >>

2018 Midterm election LGBTQ Voters’ Guide

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
Comments: 0

Electing ally candidates is critical. That’s why Watermark reached out to 154 men and women running for political office across Central Florida and Tampa Bay to ask five questions focusing on LGBTQ equality.

You’ll find the abbreviated answers of 33 respondents below: 24 Democrats, one Republican, one Libertarian and seven without a party affiliation. While the first question was open-ended, the subsequent four were yes or no and some candidates opted to elaborate.

To read Watermark’s full coverage about the equality-focused organizations, candidates and voters hoping to turn the tide Nov. 6, click here.

Continue Reading >>

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

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
Comments: 1

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.

Continue Reading >>

11.1.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
Comments: 0

I have a terrible sense of humor. I’ve written about this before and how I credit my father for just how bad it is. Dad jokes are the best, and the worse they are the harder I laugh.

Here’s an example: I have an insane love of ice cream, so much so that my trainer and my scale yell at me about it all the time. St. Pete has this wonderful little shop that sells mini-doughnuts basking in a tower of ice cream. Every time we drive by it, my partner says, “We can get mini-doughnuts.” To which I reply, “How many?” Then I laugh like I’ve never heard it before. I don’t mind laughing alone.

Continue Reading >>

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

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 1

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.

Continue Reading >>

Equality Florida Action PAC endorses Andrew Gillum for governor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
Comments: 0

MIAMI | Equality Florida Action PAC, Florida’s only political committee working to end discrimination against LGBTQ Floridians, announced its endorsement ofgubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum Aug. 31.

“Andrew Gillum has been a consistent champion for LGBTQ equality, and Floridians will see the stark contrast between his record on equality and his opponent who has embraced the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies of the Trump-Pence administration,” PAC Chair Stratton Pollitzer released in a statement.

Continue Reading >>

Bernie Sanders endorses several progressives ahead of primaries

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 0

Sen. Bernie Sanders has achieved rockstar status ever since running in the 2016 presidential election. While he didn’t win, he has maintained that status, so when he rolled into town to speak at a rally for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is running to be the Democratic nominee in the Florida gubernatorial race, it was no surprise that several hundred young, progressive voters turned up at UCF’s CFE Arena for a chance to hear him speak.

Governor-hopeful Gillum, who earned an endorsement from Bernie, spoke about the same values that Bernie campaigned on: affordable healthcare, increasing the minimum wage and equality for all. Before Bernie and Andrew came to the stage, the crowd was greeted by our own proud progressive, feminist, queer, Latinx, Democrat, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

Continue Reading >>

Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial candidates

By : Samuel Johnson
Comments: 0

The whole of Florida politics is in flux during this primary midterm election cycle. While the Democrats are looking to flip the balance of power in the state legislature, the incumbent Republicans are trying to retain their advantage on that balance of power.

Many Floridians are keeping an eye at the top of the ballot, especially the gubernatorial race. Current Florida Governor Rick Scott has been term-limited out and has thrown his hat into the Senate race against incumbent Bill Nelson.

Continue Reading >>

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidates pitch for votes

By : Wire Report
Comments: 0

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) – Florida’s five Democratic candidates made their pitches to party activists at their annual convention June 30, hoping to swing support and drum up donations in advance of the August primary.

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and developers Jeff Greene and Chris King dashed between interest group caucuses in hopes of solidifying support among party stalwarts in advance of the Aug. 28 primary.

Continue Reading >>

LGBTQ rights is personal for Florida gubernatorial candidates

By : Wire Report
Comments: 0

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – The leading Democrats running for Florida governor met with gay and lesbian party members on Aug. 19 in an event that at times was touching and personal, and served as a reminder that Florida is a place where people can still be discriminated against because of who they love.

Perhaps the most chilling moment was when Orlando-area businessman Chris King described his brother as a brilliant, handsome man who would light up a room as soon as he walked in. But his brother was gay, and Florida wasn’t a tolerant place when they were growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. He struggled with depression.

Continue Reading >>