The SMART Ride raises largest one-year total in 15 years for HIV/AIDS research

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The SMART Ride, the only HIV/AIDS bicycle ride in the country of its size to donate 100 percent of funds raised to HIV/AIDS research, revealed Nov. 17 that it had raised a record $1,171,849 in its 15th year – the largest one-year total in the not for profit’s history.

Hundreds of riders from Jacksonville, Key West, Orlando, Palm Beach, Tampa Bay and across the nation completed the two-day, 165-mile bike ride from Miami to Key West Nov. 16-17. Each rider was tasked with raising at least $1,250.

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The Tender activist: Whatever gets you through the day

By : Scottie Campbell
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Perhaps it’s just in my circle of friends and acquaintances, but I have been struck lately by the casualness and accompanying entitlement of theophobia.

Theophobia is not a well-reasoned discussion about religion, it’s not someone stating their belief with supporting evidence, instead it’s someone stating things in such a way that implies the stupidity of anyone believing in religion or perhaps certain religions.

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Laverne Cox speaks on the ‘violence’ of misgendering trans murder victims

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Laverne Cox got candid about her past suicidal thoughts and emotional response to news of the three unsolved murders of black transgender women in Jacksonville, Florida.

The “Orange is the New Black” star posted a link to an article from ProPublica’s investigation into the murders along with a deeply personal note about her past.

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Gay teen kicked out of home will pay $0 to attend Georgetown

By : wire report
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) | After raising nearly $130,000 to cover tuition, the gay Florida valedictorian who says his parents kicked him out will pay nothing to go to college this fall.

News outlets report Georgetown University adjusted 18-year-old Seth Owen’s financial aid package, reducing his expected out-of-pocket contribution from $20,000 to $0.

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Jacksonville faces a fourth LGBTQ murder victim, fear of serial killer heightens

By : Colton Adkins
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. | The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office responded to a call around 3 p.m. about an unresponsive body at Waters Edge Apartments in Jacksonville July 19. Deputies discovered the body of 30-year-old Jessie Sumlar.

Sumlar was a hairstylist at Salon 180 and a local drag performer, according to The Florida Times-Union.

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With 2018’s third transgender murder in Jacksonville, advocates seek justice and solidarity

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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At least 28 known transgender men and women were murdered nationwide in 2017, the highest number on record. On June 24, just over 2018’s midpoint, the murders of two transgender women brought this year’s total to half that—prompting community advocates to demand justice for the 14 transgender lives lost.

One of those murders was that of Cathalina Christina James, a transgender woman of color who lived her life as more than a disturbing statistic stemming from Jacksonville, Fla. James’ death sparked outrage and stoked fear for the transgender community in Florida’s fourth most populous city, with local leaders fearing a serial killer stalked Jacksonville’s streets.

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Celine Walker becomes fourth reported transgender homicide victim in 2018

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. | Celine Walker became the fourth reported transgender homicide victim this year on Feb. 4, though news of her death was delayed after local police reportedly misgendered her and utilized her birth name in official reports.

Walker, a 36-year-old transgender woman of color, was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound at an Extended Stay America hotel near the St. Johns Town Center. According to transgender advocate Monica Roberts of the TransGriot blog, “the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is claiming they have a policy that does not refer to victims as transgender.”

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Jacksonville city attorney: challenge to gay rights law ‘defective’

By : wire report
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The city attorney in Jacksonville says an initiative intended to challenge a new gay rights law cannot be legally placed on the November ballot.

The Florida Times-Union reports that city general counsel Jason Gabriel said in a memo this week that the initiative is “defective” because it would grant local voters a power they do not have. Gabriel says only the Jacksonville city council has legislative authority.

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Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance threatened on the federal level by new bill

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. | Jacksonville’s City Council approved an anti-discrimination ordinance protecting the LGBTQ community less than a year ago, but those protections are already in danger at the state level.

Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jay Fant has introduced House Bill 871. It would allow businesses to set their policies in accordance to their religious beliefs—something Jacksonville attorney and LGBT activist Jimmy Midyette calls “insidious.”

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Jacksonville religious group continues to raise funds to fight city’s LGBTQ-inclusive HRO

By : Jeremy Williams
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. | The anti-LGBTQ group Empower Jacksonville is continuing to raise funds in an effort to overturn Jacksonville’s LGBTQ protections added into their Human Rights Ordinance this past Valentine’s Day.

According to FloridaPolitics.com, the political action committee brought in just over $10,000 in November. This pushes the total the conservative organization has raised to nearly $32,000.

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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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