Never again, but why now?

By : Jamie Hyman
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In the weeks since a shooter killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., survivors have been featured in a town hall on national television, visited the Florida Legislature and led a march of more than a million protesters nationwide, demanding sensible gun control.

In the weeks following the shooting at Pulse nightclub in 2016, the levels of advocacy and response were far more muted, which is forcing members of the LGBTQ community to wonder why, after a mass shooting that at the time was the deadliest in U.S. history, government officials, the media and the nation failed to rally behind the Pulse survivors with the volume and intensity that are leading millions to take action today.

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Homo Erectus: The Evolution of Us – Hope (and Thoughts and Prayers) for Our Gun-Totin’ Future

By : STEVE YACOVELLI
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Steve Yacovelli

The Parkland shooting has yet again re-ignited the great American gun control debate. Both sides of the coin have brought out their best arguments for control/freedom. It’s sadly yet another repeat of the same ol’ “thoughts and prayers” responses we have heard time and time again: from Sandy Hook to Virgina Tech to Las Vegas to our own Pulse massacre. Yet this time something feels a bit different; it feels like a tipping point of sorts.

While there was ample focus after Pulse within our community and beyond to look at common sense gun control, sadly we were constantly met with that “thoughts and prayers” shenanigans from politicians on both sides of the aisle. Some – like Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan and Florida State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith – passionately reached out to lawmakers to change things. Groups like the Orlando chapter of Gays Against Guns and The Dru Project formed and shouted for gun reform. But nothing seemed to change. Some thought that, gee, if Washington wasn’t moved into action when kindergarteners were gunned down in their own classroom at Sandy Hook, maybe nothing could really turn the dial.

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Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith recognized by The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation

By : Jeremy Williams
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WASHINGTON | Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) was awarded the Legislative Leadership Award at The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation’s AIDSWatch in D.C., according to a press release issued March 27.

Smith was selected for his HIV advocacy and, more specifically, for his part in helping to convince Publix Supermarkets to cover the HIV preventative drug known as PrEP for their employees.

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Pride Fund To End Gun Violence looks to the November mid-terms for answers

By : Jeremy Williams
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Pride Fund To End Gun Violence founder and executive director Jason Lindsay remembers in detail the moment he decided to start the organization.

“It all began the day of Pulse,” Lindsay recalls. “I was watching the news like so many other people and saw the tragedy unfold and a pivotal moment was seeing a mom, Christine Leinonen, who was waiting to find out whether her son had survived or not, and she pleaded in a clip that’s been played over and over again asking for somebody to please do something about the assault weapons.”

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The Center announces 2018 Orlando Diversity Award recipients

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The LGBT+ Center Orlando, Inc. announced March 9 the recipients of the 2018 Orlando Diversity Awards which will be presented at the sixth annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast.

State House Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith was named as the Champion of Equality recipient, the Orlando Police Department’s Chief John Mina was named as the LGBT Ally of the Year and Orlando performer and activist Blue Star was named as this year’s LGBT Trailblazer.

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2018 WAVE AWARD WINNERS – CENTRAL FLORIDA

By : Watermark Staff
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FAVORITE LOCAL POLITICIAN/ACTIVIST

First: Patty Sheehan, Orlando City Commissioner – District 4

Second: Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor

Third: Carlos Guillermo Smith, Florida House Representative – District 49

GREATEST STRAIGHT ALLY TO THE LOCAL LGBTQ COMMUNITY

First: Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor

Second: Anna Eskamani, Florida House candidate – District 47

Third: Darren Soto, U.S. House of Representatives – Florida’s 9th District

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State Representatives Carlos Guillermo Smith and Amy Mercado hold roundtable ahead of gun bill vote

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: State House Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith listens to survivors of the Pulse shooting at a Central Florida roundtable on gun control in Orlando March 3. Photo by Jeremy Williams

ORLANDO | Florida House Democrats Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Rep. Amy Mercado held a roundtable March 3 in Orlando with survivors and families of victims of the Pulse tragedy, along with parents, students, teachers and advocates to discuss current gun safety proposals introduced by the Florida legislature.

“Many of you are impacted by gun violence because you survived the horrific shooting at Pulse. Many of you are implicated by this legislation that the Florida Legislature is considering because you are students, teachers or parents,” Smith said in his opening remarks to the guests. “Today is about lifting all of your voices right now so that we as lawmakers can take the feedback to Tallahassee.”

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UPDATE: Publix to begin covering HIV preventative drug PrEP for employees

By : Jeremy Williams
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UPDATE:

After meeting with state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, Publix announced they would begin allowing PrEP to be covered for their employees under their prescription benefits.

The company took to Twitter saying:

Publix appreciates the concerns shared by our associates and customers. We offer generous health coverage to our eligible full-time and part-time associates at an affordable premium and are committed to the health and well-being of our associates and their families.

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01.11.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution—at least that I can remember.It isn’t because I don’t hope for a better year than the last, particularly after a rather polarizing 2017. It’s just something that never really occurs to me, especially now that I have to wrangle my husband for my midnight-mandated “kissy” photo op. He hates pictures of people kissing.

There’s nothing wrong with people making resolutions. It works for some, and that’s wonderful. I try to make every day the best it can be, so an over-arching 365-day look-ahead just doesn’t do it for me.

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Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith kicks off re-election campaign at The Abbey

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | “We have all heard him say, and I want you to say it with me, ‘I am a proud progressive, liberal, feminist, gay, Latino, Democrat,’” state Rep. Amy Mercado (D-48) said from the stage, speaking of state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-49), at The Abbey Jan. 5.

Mercado, along with many liberal progressives—among them Florida House District 47 candidate Anna Eskamani, former state Rep. Joe Saunders and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer—joined Smith as he kicked off his 2018 re-election campaign .

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2016 was the worst year ever, and 2017 was the year we found our footing

By : Jeremy Williams
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In these very pages one year ago we proclaimed 2016 to be the worst year ever. It started off with so much promise and optimism, with the official passing of the torch as the former owner of Watermark turned the reins over to new owner Rick Claggett and Watermark Media became Watermark Publishing Group.

President Barack Obama was heading into the final year of his second term and everything seemed in place for another torch to be passed, that of the first black president passing the country off to the first female president.

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Issue 24.25 Remarkable People

By : Jake Stevens
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OGC artistic director James Rode expanded the chorus in 2017 and mad the art world take notice, out city council chair Darden Rice’s re-election and remission, Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith name breakthrough LGBTQ politician, anti-LGBTQ group files suit against Tampa’s conversion therapy ban, local news, celebrity interviews, photos, events and much, much more!

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