Equality Florida urges lawmakers to pass FCWA ahead of SCOTUS decision on LGBTQ rights

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | With the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)poised to determine if federal law bars anti-LGBTQ discrimination, Equality Florida is urging lawmakers to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) to protect LGBTQ Floridians.

Equality Florida, the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s LGBTQ community, has long supported the FCWA. It would amend the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 to add sexual orientation and gender identity, extendingstatewide housing, employment and public accommodation protections to the LGBTQ community.

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Tampa Mayor-Elect Jane Castor, equality organizations celebrate historic win

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa’s former chief of police Jane Castor made history April 23 when she was elected the city’s first openly LGBTQ mayor.

Mayor-Elect Castor faced retired banker and philanthropist David Straz in the city’s runoff election. According to unofficial returns from the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, 23.19% of Tampa’s 230,193 registered voters cast 53,385 ballots April 23. Of the 53,144 votes cast for mayor, Castor received 38,854, or 73.11% of the vote. Straz received 14,290, or 26.89%.

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One Orlando Alliance to host community discussion on LGBTQ homelessness

By : Abigail Brashear
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ORLANDO | The One Orlando Alliance is hosting a Central Florida-based discussion on the topic of LGBTQ youth homelessness at the Holden Heights Community Center in Orlando on April 11.

The discussion panel will consist of representatives from Alliance member organizations Bliss Cares, Equality Florida and Zebra Coalition; and will be moderated by Homeless Services Network of Central Florida Deputy Director Brian Postlewait.

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National Out to Win Day aims to increase LGBTQ representation

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Washington D.C. | The LGBTQ Victory Institute and 18 equality-focused partner organizations are participating in the first National Out to Win Day April 2, aiming to raise awareness about the underrepresentation of LGBTQ people holding elected office.

LGBTQ Victory Institute works to increase the number of LGBTQ people in public office and to provide programming, service, and other support to ensure their success. They advise that currently, LGBTQ people hold just 0.1 percent of elected positions in the U.S. despite being 4.5 percent of the population.

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Our Visibility Matters: Celebrating the 10th Annual International Transgender Day of Visibility

By : Equality Florida
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As a classic book begins, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So describes the state of the transgender community as we celebrate the 10th Annual International Transgender Day of Visibility.

We come together every year on March 31 to celebrate stepping out of the shadows and being visible and viable members of society. This year has never been more the case, as the transgender community has been visible on a national scale like never before. Sparked by a fractured national dialogue, an administration determined to erase us and daily incidents of alarming violence and overt discrimination; the transgender community has never been more visible or engaged. The transgender discussion spans the globe from the classroom to the White House. Never has there been more awareness of what it means to be transgender, and never has there been more misunderstanding of what it means to be transgender.

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Human Rights Campaign endorses Jane Castor for Tampa mayor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has endorsed Tampa mayoral candidate Jane Castor ahead of the city’s runoff election April 23.

HRC, the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights advocacy organization, gathered with supporters in Ybor Square March 28 to make the announcement. They were joined by the Hillsborough County LGBTA Democratic Caucus—dedicated to electing progressive candidates—as well as Equality Florida Action PAC, the state’s largest political committee dedicated to electing pro-equality candidates. Each of the latter organizations previously endorsed Castor in the race.

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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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House bill threatening LGBTQ Floridians neutralized, Senate bill in play

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | A bill in the Florida House threatening to repeal every local LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance and conversion therapy ban across the state has been neutralized, Equality Florida announced March 21.

The Florida House Commerce Committee voted to amend House Bill 3 (HB 3) to remove language threatening to repeal the ordinances and bans that day. The vote was a “clear sign that legislative leaders are listening to concerns about the unintended consequences of this sweeping legislation,” Equality Florida Senior Political Director Joe Saunders shared.

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Bill threatening every LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance in Florida moves forward

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | The Florida House State Affairs Committee debated HB 3 on March 14, a bill threatening to repeal every local LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance and conversion therapy ban across Florida.

Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, along with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights advocacy group, condemned the bill at the state capitol March 12. The groups noted 13 million LGBTQ Floridians are protected by the ordinances being targeted.

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2019 WAVE Award Spotlight: Nadine Smith

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa Bay’s Favorite Local Activist, Favorite Charitable Event (Equality Florida’s St. Pete Gala)

As the executive director of Equality Florida, the state’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for all LGBTQ Floridians, Nadine Smith is no stranger to activism.

In addition to her work with the organization, she was one of the four national co-chairs of the 1993 March on Washington and made history by taking part in the first Oval Office meeting between a sitting president and LGBTQ community leaders. Smith also served on the founding board of the International Gay and Lesbian Youth Organization and serves as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Florida Advisory Committee.

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Orlando to host LGBTQ Leadership Summit

By : Abigail Brashear
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ORLANDO | Featuring LGBTQ leaders from all throughout Florida and the Orlando area, a day of intensive training for political advocacy and advancement will be held in Orlando during the annual LGBTQ Leadership Summit on March 16.

The free summit is hosted by Victory Institute, the only national organization specifically focused on assisting open LGBTQ leaders on all levels of government, and Equality Florida, the largest political advocacy group dedicated to LGBTQ equality in Florida. It will be held at the Double Tree hotel in downtown Orlando and is open to anyone who wishes to attend, including high school and college students.

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PHOTOS: Equality Florida’s 2019 Tampa Gala

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Equality Florida held its annual Tampa Gala at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre Feb. 23, highlighting the organization’s fight for statewide equality.

The gathering featured live entertainment, silent and live auctions and honored community champions throughout the evening. John and Nancy Desmond received the 2019 Voice for Equality Award, Prin Ocea received the 2019 Youth Voice for Equality Award, the University of South Florida Office of Multicultural Affairs received the 2019 Partner in Equality Award and Gene Webster-English received the 2019 Community Service Award.  

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