Stalled in Congress, LGBT rights advance at the local level

By : Wire Report
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At the U.S. Capitol and in most statehouses nationwide, supporters of LGBT rights are unable to make major gains these days. Instead, they’re notching victories in seemingly unlikely venues, such as Morgantown, West Virginia, and Birmingham, Alabama.

They are among scores of cities and towns in Republican-governed states that have acted on their own, passing resolutions and ordinances pledging nondiscrimination protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in the absence of comparable statewide laws.

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Conservative religious group calls for the repeal of Jacksonville’s HRO protections for LGBTQ people

By : Jeremy Williams
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Empower Jacksonville, a newly formed anti-LGBTQ group in North Florida, is attempting to get two initiatives put onto the 2018 ballot that would strip away protections from the city’s Human Rights Ordinance based on people’s sexual orientation and gender identity, according to The Florida Times-Union.

The group, which introduced itself at a news conference last month at Jacksonville’s First Baptist Church, announced they would begin attempts to collect signatures for the two initiatives immediately with the hope to have both on the ballot in August 2018.

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Jacksonville City Council finally approves Human Rights Ordinance

By : Billy Manes
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JACKSONVILLE – It was a Valentine’s Day to remember as the Jacksonville City Council, after years of effort, pushed through additions to the already existing Human Rights Ordinance that will now recognize sexual orientation and gender identity. Specifically, the ordinance protects minorities in housing and employment, among other necessities, and more broadly signals a change in Jacksonville’s historically conservative culture.

“Jacksonville is such a conservative area. It really is part of the deep south in the way that most cities in Florida are not,” Equality Florida field director Amber Paoloemilio says. “There really is a tangible shift and it’s really because of the community we’ve been building over the past few years.

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Jacksonville passes inclusive nondiscrimination protections

By : Wire Report
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville City Council has voted to update the city’s civil rights laws to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Tuesday’s 12 to six vote was a victory for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. Mayor Lenny Curry said he will let it become law without his signature.

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Trans teen fights Jacksonville courts to keep out of abusive home

By : Jeremy Williams
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JACKSONVILLE – Ryan Stalvey, a transgender high school student from Jacksonville, Fla., is doing all the things a typical teen does as they start a new school year. He is getting new clothes and catching up with friends he hasn’t seen since last year, but Stalvey is also worrying about whether the state is going to force him to live in an abusive household.

Stalvey, who is 16, currently lives with a foster family. In May 2014 he came out to his parents as transgender.

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Mother sues Duval Schools over transgender bathroom policy

By : Alex Storer
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Jacksonville – A mother of four from Jacksonville is suing the Duval County Public School District for allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and changing facilities consistent with their gender identities.

Filed on May 17, the lawsuit comes on the heels of Duval County Public Schools’ decision to accept the Obama administration’s newly clarified policy concerning transgender students.

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Issue 22.25: Riding Off The Metro

By : Jake Stevens
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Chris Rudisill takes the leap from Metro to Ft. Lauderdale’s Stonewall National Museum and Archives, How your local watering holes are changing with the times, Zebra Youth Council raises awareness, local news, celebrity interviews, and much, much more!

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KKK distributes anti-gay flyers in Jacksonville neighborhoods

By : Jeremy Williams
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JacksonvilleBigotFlyersThe Ku Klux Klan distributed flyers encouraging gay bashing throughout Jacksonville neighborhoods Nov. 20.

The flyers were distributed in the Riverside area, well-known as Jacksonville’s LGBT neighborhood, as well as in the Mandarin and Southside neighborhoods, according to Jimmy Midyette of Jacksonville Coalition for Equality, a civil rights group who has been working to get sexual orientation and gender identity added to the city’s Human Rights Ordinance.

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Jacksonville mayor announces “community conversations” on LGBT protections

By : Staff Report
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville will hold a series of “community conversations” led by the city’s mayor Lenny Curry over the next few weeks to discuss bringing a more inclusive Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) to the city, according to WJCT.

The first of three events will be held Nov. 17 at 6 P.M. at Jacksonville’s downtown campus of Florida State College.

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Watermark readers speak out on Jacksonville courthouse weddings story

By : Staff Report
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When 15+ Florida counties announced they would cancel courthouse weddings rather than offer them to same-sex couples, it struck a chord with our readers. When a group of attorneys out of Jacksonville offered a work-around, you reacted again – some praising the attorneys, some still frustrated with the cancellation of courthouse weddings in the first place.

Here’s a round-up of Watermark reader responses: 

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Murdered Jacksonville man discovered in Georgia

By : Staff Report
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Vila Rica, Ga. – Police have charged a 34-year-old man with the murder of a 20-year-old gay Jacksonville man after the remains of the victim’s body were discovered in a wooden part of Camden County, Ga., Jan. 30.

Jeremy Christian Pittman was booked into the Duval County jail on the single charge of the murder of Robert Glenn. Pittman’s arrest report lists him as a resident of Jacksonville and his employer as the U.S. Postal Service in St. Marys, Ga.

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