Hurricane Michael devastates Fla. Panhandle’s LGBT community

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Members of the Florida Panhandle’s LGBT community are trying to pick up the pieces from Hurricane Michael that devastated the region earlier this month.

The LGBTQ Center of Bay County, which board secretary Cherie Crim described to the Washington Blade on Oct. 22 during a telephone interview as Bay County’s “first safe space” for LGBT youth, rented a room at an Episcopal church in Panama City.

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Florida AG Pam Bondi files suit against defunct Legendary Journeys, ‘Al and Chuck’

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi filed legal action against Legendary Journeys, Inc., owner/president Adrian L. Ferguson, Jr. and vice president Charles T. Scott Aug. 21, alleging the defunct travel agency owes consumers over $3 million.

Defendants Ferguson and Scott, commonly known as Al and Chuck, operated the LGBTQ-friendly, Sarasota-based travel agency and its statewide branches until its abrupt closure Oct. 24, 2017. According to the complaint, the duo “deceptively and unfairly collected millions of dollars from consumers for the supposed purpose of booking travel but failed to deliver on the promised trips or to issue refunds to their customers.”

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Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidates pitch for votes

By : Wire Report
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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) – Florida’s five Democratic candidates made their pitches to party activists at their annual convention June 30, hoping to swing support and drum up donations in advance of the August primary.

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and developers Jeff Greene and Chris King dashed between interest group caucuses in hopes of solidifying support among party stalwarts in advance of the Aug. 28 primary.

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Parkland shooting inspires new calls for gun reform. Will it be enough?

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Gay candidates are seizing upon the energy for gun control after the Parkland shooting. Screen capture courtesy of ABC News YouTube.

In the aftermath of America’s most recent mass shooting — a tragedy at a high school in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead — gun control has emerged as a defining issue ahead of the congressional mid-term elections and LGBT candidates are among those bringing it the forefront.

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Florida legislators wrap up a contentious session leaving the LGBTQ community relatively unscathed

By : Billy Manes
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Sine Die, they call it, the antiquated drop of the hanky to end the legislative session in Florida. On May 8, the bicameral bluster in Tallahassee came to an end following the approval of an $83 billion state budget that will siphon more taxpayer dollars to charter schools, and, remarkably, pull some power away from the state’s tourism driver, Visit Orlando. Those were the big headlines.

And while LGBTQ issues made their way around committees and lobbies, Equality Florida was there to fight back on some of the social issues.

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Uprisings: A New Deal?

By : Billy Manes
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On the last day of February, our national leader and television star Donald Trump launched his congressional speech with a nod to his wife and to Black History Month, attempting, apparently, to launch a new narrative about the Trump presidency, one that doesn’t involve salacious groping and Twitter accounts.

“Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our Nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains,” he said with all the gall of a teenage actor.“ Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”

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ACLU asks Tallahassee schools to end restrictions on clothing based on gender identity

By : Jeremy Williams
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An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union is asking a Tallahassee school district to ensure it will permit students to “wear clothing regardless whether it is consistent with gender stereotypes,” in a letter released Oct. 16 to the superintendent of Leon County Schools.

ACLU dress code letter to Tallahassee school is inresponse to an incident from Oct. 13 where a Fairview Middle School student, who was born male but identifies as agender, was told by Principal Scott Hansen that they needed to change out of their dress, because “dresses are not for boys.” The parentswithdrew the eighth-grader from the school the same day.

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Anti-gay legislation moves through state, equality bills sit in committee

By : Jeremy Williams
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Tallahassee – Florida’s Legislature has been busy this year pushing through several anti-gay and discriminatory bills masked in the argument that they are to protect women and children.

The “Single-Sex Public Facilities” bill was introduced in the Florida House on Feb. 4 and would prohibit transgender individuals from using public facilities that align with their gender identities. While the bill does not use the word “transgender,” opponents of the bills say its sole purpose is targeting the transgender community.

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Florida Supreme Court asked to interpret HIV prevention law

By : Wire Report
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Tallahassee (AP) – What does “sexual intercourse” mean in Florida?

The state’s Supreme Court justices are pondering the question in a case that threatens to weaken a 1986 law requiring HIV-positive people to reveal their infection before having “sexual intercourse.” A defense lawyer told the court Wednesday that Florida’s laws have always used the term to describe traditional sex between a man and a woman, and not any other sexual activity by either gender.

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Anti-gay groups continue to fight marriage equality lawsuits

By : Staff Report
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Tallahassee – The Liberty Counsel has filed two more motions to intervene in Florida lawsuits fighting for marriage equality.

The motions are filed on behalf of Florida Family Action, a group that pushed for the passage of Amendment 2 which is Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage. They’re attempting to intervene in the case of Grimley v. Scott, a lawsuit filed by eight Florida same-sex couples legally married elsewhere who are fighting to have their marriages recognized in Florida, and Brenner v. Scott, filed on behalf of a couple who got married in Canada, now live in Tallahassee, and want Florida to recognize their marriage.

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Missing FSU student’s death appears to be an accident

By : Staff Report
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RyanUhreAbstr Tallahassee- A preliminary autopsy report shows the death of Florida State University student Ryan Uhre appears to have been accidental and he may have fallen from the second story of the building where his body was found.

Uhre’s body was found on Feb. 18 in a building on College Avenue in downtown Tallahassee. He had been missing for more than two weeks, after he was last seen leaving a Tallahassee on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2.

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Top employers endorse LGBT workforce protections

By : Staff Report
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Tallahassee- Nearly a dozen of Florida’s top employers are joining forces to push for the passage of a statewide LGBT non-discrimination bill.

On Jan. 13, they launched the Florida Business Coalition for a Competitive Workforce to endorse the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (HB 239/SB 348), which is co-sponsored by Rep. Joe Saunders (D-Orlando) and Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) in the Florida House of Representatives and sponsored by Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Wellington) in the Senate.

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