Pride-banning Ronda Storms loses bid for Florida House

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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BRANDON | Ronda Storms, who led Hillsborough County’s now-defunct ban on the recognition of LGBTQ Pride, lost her bid for House District 59 in Florida’s GOP Primary Aug. 28.

Storms announced March 9 that she would run for the office, having left the public eye in 2012 after losing a property appraiser’s race. The two-term state senator’s anti-LGBTQ ban on pride celebrations in Hillsborough County passed in 2005 and remained in place until 2013.

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Hamburger Mary’s patron seeks $1.5 million in damages for alleged injury from drag queen’s breasts

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | Colorado resident Neldin Molina is seeking $1.5 million in compensatory damages from Hamburger Mary’s and performer “Amanda D’Hod” for an injury she allegedly received from the performer’s breasts on May 30, 2015.

According to paperwork filed on Feb. 15, Molina’s lawsuit is brought forth due to Hamburger Mary’s “liability on negligence resulting in personal injuries and willful failure to warn,” as well as the performer’s “cause of action.” The lawsuit notes that Molina is unsure if “Amanda D’Hod” is the performer’s name.

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: Beckner’s next move and Pride Nights for all

By : Anonymous
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Private Beckner reporting for duty

Many have been curious as to the next move of former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner since he termed out of his seat last year. Hillsborough’s first openly gay commissioner ran unsuccessfully to be the next Clerk of Courts and since then has remained silent on whether he would pursue another run at an elected position or head back into the private sector.

Well, wonder no more. Beckner posted to his Facebook page April 20 that he has not one but two positions he will be filling: Executive Director of Hillsborough County’s Civil Service Agency and a position with human resource advisory and talent acquisition firm HR Trust.

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As sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, the battle for LGBTQ sex ed in schools is more important than ever

By : Samuel Johnson
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Another tale of twin cities is encapsulated in twin counties, both nestled on the Tampa Bay. St. Petersburg occupies the southern borders of the bay and Tampa hugs the northern shoreline; Pinellas County and Hillsborough County respectfully.

Like most twin cities, these twin counties are dealing with some of the same civic and social challenges: shared infrastructure or shared natural resources or even shifting residential patterns. Another aspect that these twin counties share is the startling rates of sexually risky behavior among their youth, which manifests itself in high rates of sexual infections and diseases.

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Watermark’s 16 Most Remarkable People of ’16

By : Watermark Staff
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Watermark has chosen those who stood out from the LGBTQ community – 16 remarkable individuals who made a mark in 2016; whether through activism, generosity or beating the odds.

It has been a difficult year for all of us, both politically and personally, and those we have selected have made the most change, been the most inspiring and helped to make our LGBTQ community that much stronger in the face of adversity.

Below, our 16 Most Remarkable People of ’16.

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Commission Impossible: Kevin Beckner raised the flag and our expectations of what we hope for from our politicians

By : Jeremy Williams
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The year 2016 saw the end of an era in Hillsborough County as we bid farewell to District 6 County Commissioner Kevin Beckner.

Beckner was elected for his first term in 2008, and then won reelection in 2012, becoming Hillsborough’s first openly gay commissioner. The county was a very different place then.

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Hillsborough County voters may get to vote on LGBT discrimination in 2016

By : Staff Report
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Hillsborough’s Charter Review Board discussed adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the charter’s anti-discrimination section at their most recent meeting Nov. 3.

The review board, a 14-member group selected and appointed by the county’s seven commissioners, meets every five years to review and recommend changes to the county charter.

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Marriage equality could signal the death of domestic partnerships and the benefits they bestow

By : Jamie Hyman
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It seems simple enough. When same-sex couples couldn’t legally get married, cities and counties created domestic partnerships, so that those couples could receive some of the benefits and protections marriage provides. Now that same-sex couples can legally marry, domestic partnerships are redundant and can be eliminated, right?

Not so fast.

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2015 General Election Results

By : Watermark Staff
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Polls are closed on the 2015 General Elections and results are rolling in.

Find out who won after the jump:

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Watermark’s Voter’s Guide for 2015 General Elections

By : Watermark Staff
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Today is election day in certain districts throughout Central Florida, Tampa, St. Pete, and the rest of the country.

Get out and make your vote count by knowing who you are voting for and what they stand for.

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Transgender issues finally gain traction in Florida schools

By : Billy Manes
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On Oct. 13, an eighth-grade student from Fairview Middle School in Leon County who wore a dress to class finally gave in to the pressure and left the school for good. According to USA Today, school administrators called the student’s parents and requested a change of clothes because the gender confusion had the “potential” to cause a distraction. The principal, Scott Hansen, told the paper that, “Unfortunately, in middle school there is not as much freedom for expression.”

Leon County School Board superintendent Jackie Pons expressed “concern,” according to the report: not so much for the fact the student challenged gender barriers so much as for the reality that the culture of the school board district failed to address such bullying and the LGBT issues that often precede it.

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Man charged in murder of India Clarke a “person of interest” in another Tampa killing

By : Jeremy Williams
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Tampa – The 18-year-old under arrest for the murder of India Clarke, a transgender woman whose body was found July 21 in a Tampa community center playground, is named as a “person of interest” in another Bay area murder.

The body of Tyrone Sean Davis, 46, was found July 26 in Tampa’s Temple Crest Park. While many details have not yet been released, the Tampa Bay Times is reporting that Davis’ death is being investigated as a homicide.

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