Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Jerick Mediavilla tie the knot in ceremony at The Venue Orlando

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 0

Love is love, and it was definitely in the air in Orlando this past weekend!

Florida House Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and LGBTQ activist Jerick Mediavilla were wed in a ceremony at The Venue in Orlando Aug. 4, exactly two years to the day and in the same location that they first met.

Continue Reading >>

Florida House candidate Elizabeth McCarthy’s credibility questioned

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 2

SANFORD, Fla. | Elizabeth McCarthy—the openly LGBTQ, Democratic candidate running for Florida House District 28, whose full legal name is Catherine Elizabeth McCarthy—has come under fire for inconsistencies about her past, most notably her claims of working as a cardiologist at Orlando Regional Medical Center on June 12, 2016 after the Pulse tragedy.

Florida Politics reported June 15, when confronted about the inconsistencies, McCarthy insisted that “Yes, I am a doctor” and “Yes, I did work the night of Pulse.”

Continue Reading >>

Florida House Rep. Mike Hill caught on audio recording making homophobic remarks

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 0

In an audio recording release by Equality Florida May 31, Republican State Rep. Mike Hill can be heard laughing along during a public meeting at a constituent who suggested Hill file legislation requiring LGBTQ people be put to death.

The recording begins with Hill answering a question from a different constituent than the one who suggested killing LGBTQ people who asks why fellow Republican Rep. Alexander Andrade co-sponsored the Florida Competitive Workforce Act. Hill responds saying he cannot speak for Andrade but that “thank goodness that legislation didn’t go no where.”

Continue Reading >>

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith talks wins and losses from the 2019 legislative session

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 0
ABOVE: State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith with fiancé Jerick Mediavilla (R) on stage with Gina Duncan and Jeff Prystajko minutes after the proposal at the Come Out With Pride Rally in 2018. (Photo by Danny Garcia)

ORLANDO | Florida’s 2019 legislative session wrapped with a $91 billion budget and with less than 200 of the more than 1,800 bills filed surviving on May 4.

“For all intents and purposes, this legislative session was a disaster for Floridians. But the budget was decent,” says State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-49). “That is my assessment. The budget was just OK and [the Republican House majority] destroyed everything else.”

Continue Reading >>

Florida lawmakers, activists divided on how to best legislate equality

By : A.S. Reynolds
Comments: 0

Florida’s legislative session convenes each March, a time where our legislators make or amend state law. With each session comes an opportunity for lawmakers to add LGBTQ employment and accommodation protections to the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992, which currently secures freedom from discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, handicap or marital status.

Since 2007, lawmakers have introduced legislation fighting for equality on these fronts but have met failure in the conservative Florida legislature. This year, Rep. Jennifer Webb (D-Gulfport), Sen. Darryl Rouson (D- St. Petersburg) and Sen. Joe Gruters (R- Sarasota) have introduced two differing LGBTQ equality bills ahead of the 2019 Florida legislative session, scheduled to begin March 5.

Continue Reading >>

Florida legislator accuses fellow lawmaker of bullying

By : wire report
Comments: 0

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) | A South Florida lawmaker has accused a fellow Democratic legislator of bullying her at a meeting of party leaders, but the other lawmaker says the exchange was being mischaracterized.

Florida Rep. Anika Omphroy on Feb. 11 wrote a letter to the Florida House speaker saying that Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith lashed out at her with “verbal assaults” at the meeting of Democratic leaders at an Orlando hotel last weekend.

Continue Reading >>

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 >>

Jerick Mediavilla: Educator and Central Florida LGBTQ Activist

By : Ida Vishkaee Eskamani
Comments: 0

Ida Vishkaee Eskamani

It’s fall 2017 and we are somewhere in Tallahassee. Legislative committee weeks had commenced and Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, Florida’s first LGBTQ Latinx lawmaker, was telling me about a new man in his life.

He was both giddy and bewildered by how well they were vibing. This guy was handsome (I immediately verified this with some light social media lurking), kind, funny, attentive, smart, successful and, most importantly, emotionally available and into Carlos. His name is Jerick Mediavilla and my friends—This man is remarkable!

Continue Reading >>

12.13.2018 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 0

It’s here! That magical time of the year, kiddos—where the holidays are upon us and most people have a little more pep in their step and cheer in their voice.

It’s also that time of year when everyone is doing up lists. Santa has a list of nice and naughty children. Entertainment critics have lists of the year’s best films, shows and songs. Everyone has their list of all the personal changes they hope to make stick in 2019, me included. May the odds be ever in our favor.

Continue Reading >>

Voters elect a more liberal, progressive Central Florida

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 0

ORLANDO | Voters called for a bluer state Nov. 6 as progressive candidates won several key races and many Democrats held onto their Central Florida Congressional and Legislative seats in the 2018 midterms.

State representative races placed a big blue dot in the middle of Florida as Rep.-Elect Geraldine Thompson, Rep.-Elect Anna Eskamani, Rep. Amy Mercado and Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith all won in their districts.

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 >>