Jacobs weighs in on marriage equality

By : Tom Dyer
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A Monroe County circuit court judge recently declared Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Four more cases are pending, including one in Miami-Dade. With the issue front-and-center in the state, activists on both side of the issue have sought the opinion of Central Florida’s most powerful elected official, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. Watermark requested an interview with Mayor Jacobs, which has been promised in the near future. This afternoon, Mayor Jacobs released this exclusive statement to Watermark publisher Tom Dyer.

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Nash eyes Hillsborough’s District 7 countywide seat

By : Steve Blanchard
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Mark Nash

Tampa – Mark Nash is a familiar name in Hillsborough County politics. The Brandon native was a key strategist in Commissioner Kevin Beckner’s successful 2008 campaign and also campaigned with Kathy Castor when she first sought her statewide position as Florida’s 14th District representative in 2007.

Now, two years after an unsuccessful bid for the District 4 seat in 2012, Nash, an openly gay Democrat, has his eyes set upon the countywide District 7 seat. That seat is currently held by Mark Sharpe, who cannot seek re-election due to term limits.

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4th of July Fireworks Round-up 2014

By : Jamie Hyman
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Wanna see the sky go BOOM this 4th of July weekend?

From Tampa Bay to Orlando to Daytona, Watermark has a round-up of Central Florida’s 4th of July 2014 celebrations.

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Issue 21.14: St. Pete Pride Post Coverage

By : Jake Stevens
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Our First Night Out! St. Pete Pride boasts 200,000 weekend attendance with its first night parade and separate street festival, Florida court hears marriage equality case, Outfest to celebrate the modern family in Central Florida, local news, celebrity interviews, events, photos, and much more!

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GLBT Center executive director resigns

By : Jamie Hyman
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Orlando – The GLBT Center of Central Florida, Inc. needs a new leader.

Randy Stephens, who was executive director of the organization for about five years, resigned his post June 30.

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Issue 21.13: St. Pete Pride

By : Jake Stevens
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Night Moves: St. Pete Pride’s grand marshals share the message of global equality at its first-ever night parade June 27, Your St. Pete Pride checklist, June 28 Festival entertainment line-up
Mary Lambert and the 27/92 concert, St. Pete City Hall will fly pride flag, Our extensive Gay Days coverage, local news, celebrity interviews, events, photos, and much more!

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UCF rules frat did not discriminate against gay student

By : Christal Hayes
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Orlando – The University of Central Florida fraternity accused of kicking out a pledge based on his sexual orientation was found not in violation of UCF’s discrimination policy and the fraternity’s constitution on June 16.

George Dumont, 20, claimed Beta Theta Pi rejected him five days before the fall 2013 initiation because he is gay. In addition to this claim, the sophomore posted a video to his YouTube account that received more than 15,000 views and created a stir in the UCF community.

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Oldest Orlando-area synagogue OKs performing same-sex unions

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Maitland – Congregation Ohev Shalom, the oldest synagogue in the Central Florida area, will now perform and recognize same-sex unions. The synagogue’s Executive Board made the decision unanimously with the full support of the Board of Trustees of Congregation Shalom in Maitland, Fla.

“I anticipated there might be a number of people that would see this as a turning wave from being a traditional congregation,” Senior Rabbi Aaron Rubinger said.

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RBARR RGAYDAYZ Friday Night Party

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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People from Central Florida and out of state packed the Southern Nights Theater as the 11 p.m. show began, and others started to line the bar as RBARR kicked off its RGAYDAYZ weekend events with their Friday Night Party.

Hosted by the fabulous Danielle Hunter, the drag show also featured performances from local divas Tasha Long and Sara. In amazing costumes and makeup, they owned the stage, putting on performances that had the audience cheering and tipping. They had the audience engaged throughout the show and the crowd laughing, where Hunter even introduced the crowd to a gay couple that had been married for 21 years and poked fun at the two.

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LGBT leaders visit Capitol to launch Harvey Milk stamp

By : Jeremy Williams
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Orlando – The City Beautiful occupied the Nation’s Capital as several local community leaders traveled to Washington D.C. for the dedication of the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp.

The GLBT Center of Central Florida director Randy Stephens, MBA president Mikael Audebert, Equality Florida’s Gina Leigh Duncan, Watermark publisher Tom Dyer, attorney Ava Doppelt, and USF LGBT Studies Professor David Johnson attended the May 22 ceremony at the White House. Speakers included U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Lewis. (Pictured in the image above, L to R: Stephens, Doppelt, Duncan, Dyer and Audebert.)

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Homecoming Queen: Coco Montrese returns to her roots for Gay Days

By : Kirk Hartlage
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Most of America was introduced to drag performer Coco Montrese from her Season Five stint on RuPaul’s Drag Race. But those of us in Central Florida knew her first as a local entertainer who called the area home for over a decade. While here she appeared on a myriad of local stages including The Parliament House in Orlando, the both the Flamingo and Suncoast Resorts in St. Petersburg; Hamburger Mary’s in Orlando and Tampa; and Pulse Nightclubs in Orlando and Lakeland. And while she called Central Florida home she also amassed a collection of pageant titles. She’s a former Miss Hernando County, former Miss Lakeland, former Miss Gay Orlando, former Miss Parliament House, and a former Miss Gay America.

For this year’s Gay Days festivities we’re bestowing another title on Montrese: Homecoming Queen.

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Guest column: The perfect storm

By : Marilyn Carifi
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Marilyn Carifi, MSW, is the Executive Director of Hope & Help Center of Central Florida, Inc.

Hope and Help Center of Central Florida has served people with HIV and AIDS for 26 years. In the past several months there has been major upheaval in the system of care for a number of reasons, most stemming from the Affordable Care Act. Most have heard of the website freezing, and the State of Florida refusing millions of dollars in Medicaid funds from the federal government which would have helped the people who are less than 133% of the federal poverty line. Here are the other issues you may not have heard before.

Hope and Help Center has been contracted by multiple agencies, primarily Ryan White Parts A & B and the Health Council of South Florida, Inc., to provide financial assistance to eligible consumers such that they can maintain their private health insurance without major financial burden.

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