Ros-Lehtinen talks retirement, slams Trump’s military trans ban

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Letinen (R-Fla.) speaks with the Washington Blade at her office on Capitol Hill on May 21. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.

Retiring U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) last week reiterated her criticism of President Trump over a host of issues that includes his effort to ban transgender people from the military.

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Equality Florida highlights 2018’s statewide legislative battles

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida

Tallahassee, fla. | Equality Florida has released a highlight of the battles fought on behalf of the LGBTQ community during Florida’s 2018 legislative session.

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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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Parkland shooting inspires new calls for gun reform. Will it be enough?

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Gay candidates are seizing upon the energy for gun control after the Parkland shooting. Screen capture courtesy of ABC News YouTube.

In the aftermath of America’s most recent mass shooting — a tragedy at a high school in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead — gun control has emerged as a defining issue ahead of the congressional mid-term elections and LGBT candidates are among those bringing it the forefront.

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Richardson raises more than $1 million in his run for Congress, earns national endorsement

By : Jeremy Williams
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Democratic State Rep. David Richardson raised more than $500,000 in the final three months of 2017 for his run to become the next U.S. Congressman in Florida’s 27th District, according to FloridaPolitics.com.

Adding in what he raised earlier in the year brings his total to $1 million since announcing his run this past summer.

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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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Gay State Representative David Richardson plots historic run for Congress

By : Billy Manes
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After becoming Florida’s first LGBTQ politician elected to Tallahassee’s big leagues, State Rep. David Richardson – who is known as a stickler for details and a champion of civil rights – has entered the national ring, publicly announcing that he intends to go after the Congressional District 27 seat that is soon to be vacated by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who unexpectedly revealed that she would be vacating the position before she was projected to bow out in 2020. The Miami-based seat she will likely vacate is an important one, as Richardson’s current district is virtually enclosed within Ros-Lehtinen’s congressional district.

“Whoever goes there and has a seat is going to have to work in a bipartisan way, which is something I’ve done in Tallahassee,” Richardson says on the phone from a special session in Tallahassee. “I think healthcare will continue to be an issue. Immigration will be a very big issue in South Florida. And criminal justice reform will be key.”

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3.23.17 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

“Eat the rich” is the common parlance for societal injustice mostly attributed to 18th Century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau; “Let them eat cake!” is but another foodie rallying call through political revolution that has often been (falsely) assigned to Marie Antoinette in a French Revolution fit – though it, too, has its roots in Rousseau’s philosophically hyperbolic oeuvre. At any rate, the message is clear: When we’re not voting with our ballots or simply our wallets, we are voting with our stomachs.

In this issue, Watermark takes on the daunting task of breaking down the politics of eating. Before you even flip to our cover story, “Love Bites,” please understand that we know that it is impossible for us to be absolute and comprehensive when there are restaurants, food joints – some even on wheels! – and means of masticating in nearly every urban peripheral glance. I’m sure we’ll catch hell for some exclusions, but let’s just consider this a starting point.

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State Representative David Richardson declares victory against conversion therapy in south Florida House district

By : Billy Manes
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Tallahassee – Gay state Rep. David Richardson took a stance early in this legislative session against so-called conversion therapy, the anti-LGBTQ means of “correcting” behaviors of the gay community. House Bill 273 presents a strong statement against the psychological manipulation of LGBTQ youth by therapists, arguing that conversion therapy – which can often include electric-shock therapy – must not be used on minors. In 2015, President Barack Obama made it clear that the nation, under his administration, would not accept “reparative” therapy, due to its destructive effects on patients.

“We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer youth,” his department said in a statement. “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

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156 LGBTQ elected officials just sent a letter to Donald Trump. It’s pretty strong.

By : Billy Manes
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Thanks to our friends at Logo and NewNowNext, this came across our transom this Friday afternoon. Following a week of bizarre behavior from the President-elect, golden showers included, it’s nice to read that some people take their jobs as elected representatives seriously. Among those cosigning the letter are Florida Reps. David Richardson and Carlos Smith. Well done. Read the whole thing after the jump.

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A toast and a stumble through 2016, the year we will never forget

By : Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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We could go on and on about our gripes with the letter “P” this year, generally circulating around two terms: “Pulse” and “Politics.” So, indeed, that’s what we’ll do. Though we may have seen some wonderful developments in the year that God forgot, for the most part, many of us are grabbing at straws, trying to make sense of how it is that we descended so deeply, that we became the eye of the target of absolute terror.

Some may say that 2016 was the backlash for all of the gifts we were given by 2015, most notably marriage equality in both state and nation. Others might opine that there is something else going on here with the media, with conspiracies, with a new Cold War. We can’t be certain, but we certainly have each other’s backs, as has been proven by the many acts of kindness that rose up to meet the beast of an election year gone awry and a local community cut to its core. We are not a weak people; we have seen trouble before. But this year owns a special place in our hearts, one we hope that heals over without forgetting those who suffered and those who commandeered offenses that none of us could have been prepared for.

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LGBT State Rep. David Richardson replies to John Stemberger’s fundraising fear-mongering gracefully

By : Billy Manes
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DavidRichardsonThanks to our friends at FloridaPolitics.com, we can stick a cup up against the virtual door and hear how a true political hero – in this case, State Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami, who happens to be gay – responds to dishonored Boy Scout (or whatever you want to call him: hate group leader, generally terrible person) John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council and Florida Family Action. Stemberger issued a backhanded compliment to Richardson a few days ago via FloridaPolitics.com. To wit:

Dear Rep. Richardson:

Since your election to the Florida House of Representatives in 2012 until now, I have always known your reputation as a legislator to be one of nothing but respect for the dignity of the institution, for the legislative process and for your fellow colleagues. Even those who firmly disagree with you on matters of public policy speak highly of you, of your talents as a legislator and the unique perspective you bring to the process.

However, after the tragic and despicable acts of evil which took place right down the street from my offices in Orlando June 12, I was both shocked to learn of your repeated statements accusing your fellow legislators of creating an environment that gives rise to such horrible violence when they speak out against any LGBT bills as bad public policy in the Legislature.

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