We look back on 2018, a midterm year for a country that’s just living on a prayer

By : Jeremy Williams and Ryan Williams-Jent
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It’s been two years since we, as a country, entered into the reality that is the Trump Administration. The country feels more divided than ever and the phrases “fake news” and “it’s all a witch hunt” are commonplace.

The violence that seems to define who Americans are these days is also there, particularly in Florida, where there has been no justice for the five transgender women of color who were murdered and yet another mass shooting—this time at a high school in Parkland, Fla.—pulled the focus of the world to our state.

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In first, U.S. military has accepted openly transgender recruit

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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In a first, an openly transgender person has signed a contract to join the U.S. military — a development that could occur thanks to federal court rulings against President Trump’s transgender military ban.

Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesperson, confirmed to the Washington Blade on Tuesday an openly transgender person has signed a contract to join the armed forces, which is part of the process for enlistment.

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No recommendation from Mattis yet on trans military service

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Defense Secretary James Mattis is poised to make recommendations to the White House this week on transgender military service, although that hasn’t happened as of Wednesday afternoon despite a deadline of that day, a defense official said.

Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesperson, said the Mattis recommendation is forthcoming, but not yet submitted.

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Central Florida elected officials gather at JOY MCC to stand with the transgender community

By : Jeremy Williams
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(ABOVE: (L-R) Orange County District 5 Commissioner Emily Bonilla, Florida Senator Linda Stewart, Orlando District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill, JOY MCC Senior Pastor Rev. Terri Steed Pierce, Orange County District 3 Commissioner Pete Clarke, Florida House District 49 Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, Orlando District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan.)

ORLANDO | Nearly two dozen elected officials are standing in solidarity with the transgender community after President Donald Trump’s tweets last week announcing a ban on trans people serving in the U.S. military.

Eric Rollings, Orange County’s Soil and Water Conservation Chair, spoke from the pulpit at JOY Metropolitan Community Church July 30, reading from a list of Central Florida politicians who stated they unequivocally stand with the LGBTQ community, especially with the transgender community in light of the recent attacks.

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Advocates protest transgender military ban outside White House

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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More than 100 people gathered outside the White House on Wednesday to protest President Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from the U.S. military.

Several trans servicemembers spoke alongside American Military Partner Association President Ashley Broadway-Mack and Diego Sánchez, a trans man who is PFLAG’s director of advocacy, policy and partnerships. Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, a trans woman who is one of former President Obama’s LGBT liaisons, is among those who attended the protest.

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Rep. Hartzler seeks to bar transgender health care in U.S. military

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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On the heels of her tirade in committee over allowing transgender people to serve in the U.S. military, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) has proposed an amendment that would bar the Defense Department from providing transition-related care for troops.

The amendment was among the many submitted to the House Rules Committee by the Friday deadline in anticipation of a floor vote on major defense policy legislation for fiscal year 2018. The committee is set to meet this week to review and accept amendments ahead of the vote on the $697 billion bill.

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U.S. Military to offer benefits to same-sex spouses

By : Wire Report
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Washington (AP) – Same-sex spouses of U.S. military members will be eligible for the same health care, housing and other benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex spouses starting Sept. 3, the Defense Department.

The decision follows the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which had been used to deny married gay couples such benefits.

Momentum in the U.S. has been moving toward acceptance of same-sex marriage, with a half-dozen states legalizing it over the past year and President Barack Obama speaking in support of it. Thirteen states now have gay marriage.

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