PHOTOS: Hillary Clinton visits Pulse Orlando

By : Jeremy Williams
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Hillary Clinton visited Orlando July 22 to meet with the families and friends of the Pulse shooting victims, as well as meet with community leaders for a roundtable.

Clinton then paid an unannounced visit to Pulse with Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer and Florida Senator Bill Nelson to leave flowers at the memorial and pay her respects before heading to Tampa for a rally.

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Mentorship Monday with Tampa Bay Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and Balance Tampa Bay

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Come join us for our first Mentorship Mixer at the University of Tampa. This is an opportunity for students to meet potential mentors to launch our 2nd year with the Mentorship Program co-hosted by The Tampa Bay Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and Balance Tampa Bay. All our welcome and learn how students can gain points for our Annual Diamond Scholarship Award. Mentors can meet students to help make a postive impact in their future!

Kinky Boots event brings LGBT youth behind the curtain

By : Jamie Hyman
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About 20 of Central Florida’s LGBT youth will get an opportunity to learn about what goes into a Broadway production.

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, in partnership with Zebra Coalition, Kinky Boots and the True Colors Foundation is hosting the event, which is an afternoon of educational speakers followed by a dinner, performance and then a Q&A with the Kinky Boots cast.

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Jason and deMarco to Perform at SunCoast Cathedral MCC

By : Krista DiTucci
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As part of their “Anything is Possible” tour, contemporary pop worship artists Jason and deMarco will be performing live at SunCoast Cathedral MCC in Venice on Friday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. The concert will be a free-will offering and coincides with the church’s 21st anniversary.

Susie Brenner, SunCoast MCC program developer, says she is excited about their music and the message they bring.

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Nebraska bill to prevent anti-gay child placement agencies from losing state funding

By : Wire Report
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Lincoln, Neb. (AP) – A bill introduced in the Nebraska Legislature would prevent child placement agencies that refuse to license gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender foster parents on religious principle from losing state funding.

Lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday from Christian agencies that say they might be forced to choose between their religious beliefs and state funding after a Nebraska judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex foster parents last year.

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Clearwater’s Tech Data establishes LGBT employee resource group

By : Billy Manes
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tech data gay lgbt workforce inclusiveEven as we mourn the loss of a common-sense protection bill, the Competitive Workforce Act, earlier this week in the legislature, some companies are keeping up the compassion and moving forward with the shifting economic playing field. Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reported on Tech Data’s new in-house initiative called Spectrum, “an employee resource group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers and allies,” the Journal reports. It is reportedly the 14th Florida business to do so,  basically because modern businesses need to court modern talent, and much of that is LGBT if not just LGBT-friendly.

Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith was in attendance as the keynote speaker for the meeting and offered her own wisdom on the issue.

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Organist Cameron Carpenter to meet with LGBT adolescents

By : Krista DiTucci
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On Feb. 27, world-renowned organist Cameron Carpenter will meet with members of Blake High School’s LGBT youth club Common Grounds for a lecture/demonstration at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

Carpenter will be meeting with 25 student members of Common Grounds to discuss his music, career and the International Touring Organ. He will then entertain students with a brief performance of the touring organ. Carpenter’s appearance is in conjunction with his concert later in the evening at the Straz Center.

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Palm Bay Council rejects addition of LGBT-protections to HRO

By : Jamie Hyman
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In a 4-1 vote that didn’t happen until about 1:30 a.m., the Palm Bay City Council rejected a proposal that would have added LGBT protections to the city’s existing human rights ordinance.

Councilwoman Michele Paccione proposed adding the protections, which turned out to be extremely controversial. More than 500 people attended the meeting, and according to Space Coast Pride president Lexi Wright, there was a line of people snaking around the corner of the building and into the parking lot hoping to get in. The considerable overflow watched the meeting from outside in the courtyard. After about 45 minutes of regular business, the discussion began and lasted nearly six hours.

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Meet the Intern: Adam Manno

By : Adam Manno
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Hey there! I’m Adam and I’m Watermark’s Spring 2016 intern.

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I ran the InternPursuit event at UCF (found: a picture of me with said event, not found: a retoucher with a soul), where Watermark interviewed journalism students hoping to find The Best Intern in the World. I sat down with Rick (Claggett, publisher) and Jamie (Hyman, Digital Media Director) last minute as an unscheduled interviewee. They loved me and I loved them. Now here I am typing into a computer screen between a “Hate Free Zone” sticker and a series of Best Website WAVE awards.

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Wedding Bells at Watermark: Stephen Gibson and Rob Johnson

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Rob Johnson and Stephen GibsonStephen Gibson, 45, who oversees vacation rentals and entertains as “Stephane Blair,” and Rob Johnson, 54, who is a graphic designer by trade, met online toward the end of 2007. Stephen noticed they had a lot in common,so he decided to message Rob.

“I got this message and email, and it said it was this guy from Florida,” Rob says. “And I was like ‘Oh my God, I don’t want to meet anybody from out of town.’ He and I started talking, and it got to the point where we would send messages back and forth online all the time, then we started talking on the phone and then we started talking on the phone every day.”

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As LGBT acceptance grows, Italians struggle to redefine family

By : Wire Report
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Rome (AP) – In Italy, family is considered so sacred that marriage is lauded in the Constitution. But what kind of family?

That has become a bitterly divisive question in a nation where the Vatican packs considerable political weight and where gays have grown impatient as other traditionally Catholic European countries have either allowed same-sex couples to marry or legally recognized their civil unions.

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#GayGoal2016: Set a goal, check in, keep the LGBT equality movement rolling

By : Jamie Hyman
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Some say there’s hardly a need for LGBT activism in a post- marriage equality world, and while we can’t deny that a sense of urgency and injustice has been deflated, we’re not quite ready to give up on fostering, nurturing and reporting about a tight-knit, active LGBT community.

Yes, there is still political work to do. Activists are – and should continue – fighting for workplace protections, against bullying, to ensure young LGBTs can come out safely and to add gender identity and sexual orientation to existing anti-discrimination policies where LGBT-specific protections are far too frequently excluded.

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