Watermark among Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2019 Business of Pride honorees

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | The Tampa Bay Business Journal has announced the honorees for the 2019 Business of Pride awards, including Watermark Publishing Group Inc. which will be honored as an LGBTQ-owned company.

The annual awards, presented in partnership with the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce, were created to recognize individuals and companies who work to advance LGBTQ equality in the workplace. Honorees were chosen by members of the Tampa Bay Business Journal editorial team and a panel of outside advisers.

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Jane Castor sworn in as Tampa’s 59th, first openly LGBTQ mayor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Jane Castor was officially sworn into office in a historical ceremony at Armature Works May 1, becoming Tampa’s 59th and first openly LGBTQ mayor.

The gathering began with a procession of Mayor Castor and her family, including longtime partner Ana Cruz and sons Sergei and Seely. Her oath was administered after an invocation, several performances and the swearing in of Tampa’s city council members Joseph Citro, Charlie Miranda, John Dingfelder, Bill Carlson, Orlando Gudes, Guido Maniscalco and Luis Viera.

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VIDEO: Mayor Bob Buckhorn says goodbye, thanks city for eight years

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn thanked the city for his eight years in office in a video released April 18.

“Thank you, Tampa, for allowing me the amazing honor to be your Mayor,” Buckhorn shared via social media. “There may be other mayors that are better than me, but I know that there will never be a mayor that loves this job as much as I do. I hope I made you proud.”

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PHOTOS: Tampa Pride 2019 VIP Sponsor Party

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa Pride held its annual VIP Sponsor Party at the Florida Aquarium March 28.

The evening celebrated the organization’s partners, sponsors and supporters ahead of the fifth annual Pride weekend. It featured a tour of the aquarium, music by DJ Jayson Clancey and was hosted by FOX 13 anchor and former Tampa Pride grand marshal Russell Rhodes, who soon introduced the city’s outgoing Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

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Jane Castor poised to become Tampa’s first openly LGBTQ mayor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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As Tampa highlights its diversity with the fifth annual Tampa Pride March 30, Jane Castor—the celebration’s two-time grand marshal and arguably one of the city’s most stalwart servants—will continue her journey to become Tampa’s first openly LGBTQ mayor.

Castor, who will face retired banker and philanthropist David Straz in Tampa’s runoff election April 23, is familiar with firsts. Ahead of her 31 years of service with the Tampa Police Department, which she began as a beat cop patrolling the city in 1983, she was elected the first female president of a Tampa Police Academy class.

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Judge says Tampa should be barred from enforcing parts of conversion therapy ban

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | A federal magistrate judge has recommended that the city of Tampa be barred from enforcing parts of its ban on the discredited practice of conversion therapy.

Tampa’s Ordinance 2017-47 is designed to protect the physical and psychological well-being of LGBTQ youth from “exposure to the serious harms and risk caused by conversion therapy.” It was signed into law in April 2017.

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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
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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.

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HRC gives a perfect score to Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg in annual ratings

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced Oct. 8 that Orlando, St. Petersburg and Tampa each received a perfect score of 100 in the organization’s seventh annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI).

The report examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are for LGBTQ people who live and work in each city rated by the organization. The score is based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality.

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City of Tampa hosts LGBTQ youth forum

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Community advocates will gather for an interactive and educational forum Sept. 12 at the Barksdale Adult Activity Center to spotlight the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ youth.

The forum is hosted by Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s Youth Leadership Council, a city program which allows local teenagers to develop leadership skills and apply them through service projects and workshops. To participate in the council, students must apply and have successfully completed one year in the Mayor’s Youth Corps. The latter program empowers youth to make community service a life-long commitment.

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Gun control rallies take place in Florida, across U.S., around the world

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: A participant in a “March for Our Lives” rally in Tampa, Fla., on March 24, 2018, holds a sign in homage of Emma González, a bisexual student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who has emerged as a vocal gun control advocate after a gunman killed 17 people inside her school last month. Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers.

TAMPA, Fla. — Hundreds of “March for Our Lives” gun control rallies, marches and protests took place across the U.S. and around the world on Saturday.

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2018 WAVE AWARD WINNERS – TAMPA BAY

By : Watermark Staff
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FAVORITE LOCAL POLITICIAN/ACTIVIST

First: Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg Mayor

Second: Nadine Smith, Equality Florida CEO

Third: Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Mayor

GREATEST STRAIGHT ALLY TO THE LOCAL LGBTQ COMMUNITY

First: Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg Mayor

Second: Joanna Garcia Parkin, ESQ., St. Petersburg attorney

Third: Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Mayor

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Pro-LGBTQ groups file motion for Equality Florida to defend Tampa’s conversion therapy ban

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the law firm Carlton Fields have filed a motion on behalf of Equality Florida to defend Tampa’s conversion therapy ban.

In December, the anti-LGBTQ group known as Liberty Counsel filed a suit against the city for banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors, citing a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

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