Orange County has largest primary voter turnout for 2018 midterms

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Voters in Orange County turned out in record numbers for the 2018 midterm primary elections Aug. 28.

More than 170,000 Orange County voters went to the polls to vote for their party’s nominees in state races for governor, Congress, attorney general and the Florida Legislature, as well as local races including Orange County mayor, Orange County Commissioners and Orange County School Board Chair.

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Widow of Pulse gunman acquitted

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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A jury on Friday acquitted Noor Salman of charges that she helped her husband carry out the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

Federal prosecutors charged Salman with obstruction of justice and providing material support to a foreign terrorism organization in connection with the June 12, 2016, shooting that left 49 people dead and 53 others injured. Salman’s trial began earlier this month at a federal courthouse in downtown Orlando that is roughly two miles from the Pulse nightclub.

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Watermark’s Most Eligible – Central Florida: Brooke Renney

By : Jeremy Williams
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Age: 27

Hometown: Polk County, Florida

How you identify: Lesbian

What’s your sign: Scorpio

Brooke can be summed with two words: passion and politics.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People of 2017

By : Watermark Staff
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In a year filled with many setbacks and obstacles, the LGBTQ communities in Central Florida and Tampa Bay have met those challenges with amazing resilience and resisted all forms of discrimination.

The individuals selected as Watermark’s Most Remarkable People of 2017 come from many walks of life but all share one thing in common, they all were truly exceptional this year.

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Orlando’s Overheard: Alliance honored, Outloud’s new host and more

By : Anonymous
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One Orlando Alliance honored

On July 15th, Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs honored the One Orlando Alliance with the 2017 Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award, the first time the county gave the award to a group.

The One Orlando Alliance is made up of over 40 local service organizations, including Watermark, and serves as a vital support system to strengthen the community in the wake of the Pulse tragedy.

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Orange County gets its first transgender deputy

By : Billy Manes
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ORLANDO – As transgender rights continue to snowball at the end of Pride month – despite political opposition via religious freedom and bathroom bills – Rebecca Storozuk has hit the message homeward in Central Florida. Her message? People should be who they are. In an Orlando Sentinel article published June 23, Storozuk made it clear to the masses that she was indeed the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s lone transgender deputy with a headline reading, “I’m becoming who I want to be.”

As the story goes, Storozuk always identified as a female – even though born as “Peter” – and played the role of high-school jock fairly well all the way up to military service

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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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A Change of Heart: Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and her new advocacy

By : Billy Manes
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It’s hard to remember the Teresa Jacobs of yore. The mayor of Orange County (and former commissioner with a “regular people” angle on governance) has seen her share of public turmoil in recent years. She was, of course, partially responsible for “textgate,” in which commissioners and the mayor were caught discussing earned sick time with lobbyists on their electronic devices during a public meeting. That’s not really legal. There was litigation. It got pretty ugly.

But sitting down with her today, she’s believably a changed woman from the one we confronted about LGBTQ rights in 2012. She’s genuine. She’s crying. Pulse happened under her watch.

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Uprisings: Diminishing returns

By : Billy Manes
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Though anyone who is taking the time to read this missive understands that this writer’s cynicism weighs more than two heavy bricks in two large pockets, the fact that the Aug. 30 primary only drew a 20 percent crowd in Orange County – and a similar number in Pinellas County – is a bit of a kick in the teeth. In some ways, I’ll take the blame. I was asked by numerous voters who to vote for, but I didn’t have the time to just throw numbers and precincts in their faces. I also didn’t, perhaps, do my due diligence in making that clear.

In a primary, in a gay paper, we don’t generally parse details. You’re with us, or you’re against us. We aren’t going to vote Republican, generally, so there’s that (sorry about your logs). The pols that have been with us were very clear in their messaging, and we likely profiled them in the past. The ones who are against us? Well, there aren’t enough ticks in a clock for us to deal with them at any reasonable length. So, on one hand, I’m issuing an apology. If any news source should be standing and screaming into the district-depths of individual primaries, it should be us, mine, the one that I edit. On the other hand, these are small towns and there are a lot of voices, many of which are familiar with my contact information, so I didn’t want to sink into the quicksand of political gamesmanship. In fact, because of social media, I did make some personal comments on personal pages, and I may have overstepped and come off as a dick.

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Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph issues directive halting North Carolina business over HB2

By : Billy Manes
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Something for the weekend: Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph issued a memo yesterday to all county department heads that Orange County’s tax office has no business doing business in North Carolina. This is obviously in protest of HB2, the North Carolina law that crushed all the wicked bathrooms, the ethics and compassion of our recent LGBT awakening, at least in North Carolina (and likely Mississippi). We’ll follow up with Randolph next week, but, for now, here is a copy of the memo. Well done, Orange County.

 

NC Travel Memo

Orange County DEC Legacy of Action awards reception

By : Jamie Hyman
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At their Legacy of Action Awards reception, the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee celebrated the lives and legacies of local grassroots activists Feb. 19 at Elixer in downtown Orlando.

The DEC presented the Harris-Namey-Waxman Lifetime Legacy Award, Cannon-Porta Woman of Action Award and The Bill Nelson Activist in Government Award in honor and celebration of exemplary service, patriotism and dedication to the values of the Democratic Party and the people of Central Florida.

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Driver complains about “GAY” license plate

By : Jamie Hyman
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license plate gay

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1.21.15 This story has been updated with more information about the driver who issued the complaint, and a statement from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph is fielding complaints from local auto dealerships because a driver protested after being issued a license plate that starts with the letters “GAY.”

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