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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12.27.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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It’s hard to believe the end of the year is here. It’s cliche to say, but when you live your life in two week cycles across two metropolitan areas—time flies. 2018 zoomed by in the blink of an eye.

Watermark did well in 2018. We saw an increase in sales, so thank you to the businesses and organizations that support us and help us to continue bringing the latest in LGBTQ news to our readers—and congratulations to Senior Account Manager Sam Callahan who had a stellar year. We also saw an increase in distributions sites and are now available at over 600 locations in Central Florida, Tampa Bay and surrounding areas.

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PHOTOS: Equality Florida holds 2018 Suncoast Celebration

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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SARASOTA | Equality Florida held its annual Suncoast Celebration at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium Nov. 18, benefiting the organization’s work in fighting for statewide equality.

The evening featured live entertainment from Josh Walther and the Phase5 Band and honored community advocates throughout the celebration, beginning with Dr. Fred and Lee Brockmann. The duo, known for their outspoken advocacy, received the 2018 Voice for Equality honor. Dorothy Neufeld received the 2018 Spirit of Service and Leadership honor.

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PHOTOS: St. Petersburg holds ‘We Won’t Be Erased’ transgender support rally

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | LGBTQ community leaders and advocates gathered Nov. 4 at Williams Park for St. Petersburg’s “We Won’t Be Erased” transgender support rally.

Nathan Bruemmer organized the rally following reports that the Trump administration may attempt to define gender as an immutable condition determined at birth. Partner organizations included Equality Florida, TransAction Florida, Metro Wellness & Community Centers, St. Pete Pride, the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce and Project No Labels. “We rally for our rights, for our future and for our lives,” Bruemmer shared with Watermark ahead of the event. “These rallies are happening all over our country right now. I hope the politicians who need to hear this message do so and act.”

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LGBTQ groups gather in South Florida to announce Gillum for Governor endorsements

By : Jeremy Williams
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MIAMI | Three LGBTQ organizations—one local, one statewide and one national—gathered at the CIC in Miami Sept. 24 to jointly announce their support for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in his bid to become Florida’s next governor.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) joined with Equality Florida, the state’s largest civil rights organization, and SAVE, a South Florida LGBTQ advocacy group, to commit working together to secure full equality for Florida’s LGBTQ community, according to an HRC press release.

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Lawyer seeking Pinellas-Pasco judgeship reiterates anti-LGBTQ views

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Pinellas-Pasco circuit judgeship candidate Donald McBath is standing by his anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim commentary ahead of Aug. 28’s primary election.

“If the homosexual continues committing that sin of sodomy, his soul faces ETERNAL damnation,” McBath shared via Facebook Feb. 25, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times May 30. “Abstain, if you really have that mental illness. It’s not love.”

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Never again, but why now?

By : Jamie Hyman
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In the weeks since a shooter killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., survivors have been featured in a town hall on national television, visited the Florida Legislature and led a march of more than a million protesters nationwide, demanding sensible gun control.

In the weeks following the shooting at Pulse nightclub in 2016, the levels of advocacy and response were far more muted, which is forcing members of the LGBTQ community to wonder why, after a mass shooting that at the time was the deadliest in U.S. history, government officials, the media and the nation failed to rally behind the Pulse survivors with the volume and intensity that are leading millions to take action today.

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Pro-LGBTQ groups file motion for Equality Florida to defend Tampa’s conversion therapy ban

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the law firm Carlton Fields have filed a motion on behalf of Equality Florida to defend Tampa’s conversion therapy ban.

In December, the anti-LGBTQ group known as Liberty Counsel filed a suit against the city for banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors, citing a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

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Las Vegas shooting surpasses Orlando as deadliest in U.S. history

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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A deadly shooting at a concert Sunday night in Las Vegas has left more than 50 dead and 400 wounded, surpassing the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando as the deadliest in U.S. history.

The perpetuator — identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64 — fired from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas casino upon an outdoor country music festival below as singer Jason Aldean performed.

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We look at St. Petersburg’s (partisan) non-partisan primary mayoral race between Baker and Kriseman

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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On August 29, St. Petersburg could choose its next mayor. According to the Pinellas County supervisor of elections, 169,770 residents of the city will be eligible to vote in the upcoming primary election, meaning that 169,770 residents of the Sunshine City will have one of three choices that day.

First, to elect the next mayor. Second, to send two candidates to a run-off election in November, should no one receive 50 percent plus one of the vote. Or third, to stay home and let every other eligible voter decide on their behalf.

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: Amy Foster wins, Nadine Smith inspires and Scott & Patti entertain

By : Anonymous
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FOSTER CARES

Running unopposed, it wasn’t any surprise that Amy Foster was elected as the District 8 council member in St. Petersburg. Foster filed her paperwork to run on May 24, after social worker Tharius Bethel challenged her. However, after only one day, Bethel was forced to drop out of the race after informing the City Clerk’s office he did not live in District 8. Bethel originally listed his address as 4316 78th St. N, and in a withdrawal letter wrote he fell outside the required residence for District 8 and was “sorry for the inconvenience.”

Foster’s win is added to a long list of achievements. She served as the National Collaborative Network Manager for the EdLab Group’s National Girls Collaborative Project, focused on gender equity, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. She was also the former Vice President for St. Pete Pride. Congratulations Amy!

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Uprisings: Sign your name

By : Billy Manes
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While many of us were flapping around in post-traumatic winds on the one-year mark of the Pulse shooting June 12, some of the weight of a contentious legislative session met the power of the governor’s pen. Governor Scott, who never met a gay person he didn’t ignore (except for when convenient), took to uncle Donald Trump’s Twitter ways and made it clear that he was thinking about the victims.

“Over the past year, the Orlando community has been challenged like never before,” his fingers tweeted. “I have been briefed by our law enforcement officials on this tragic incident and Ann and I are praying for the families who lost loved ones today. I ask all Floridians to pray for the families impacted by this senseless act of violence. I will remain in contact with the Orlando law enforcement community throughout the day as more information is made available.”

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