PHOTOS: Orlando VA celebrates LGBTQ Pride Month

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The Orlando VA Medical Center in Lake Nona celebrated its ninth annual LGBT+ Pride Month Celebration in Orlando June 14.

More than two dozen VA services, LGBTQ organizations and community programs gathered in the VA’s Lake Nona Auditorium to educate LGBTQ veterans and celebrate Pride.

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LGBT veterans honored at D.C. wreath laying ceremony

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr. OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Close to 100 people assembled in D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery on Sunday to pay tribute to LGBT veterans. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Close to 100 people, including LGBT veterans and active duty LGBT service members, assembled at the gravesite of gay Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich in D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery on Sunday to pay tribute to LGBT veterans.

The Veterans Day event, organized by the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, included remarks by Major General Tammy Smith of the U.S. Army Reserves, who disclosed her status as a lesbian in 2012 shortly after the repeal of the military’s ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy.

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Equality Florida’s Todd Richardson shares his story of being discharged from the United States Air Force because he is gay

By : Jeremy Williams
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“Airman Richardson, I am here to escort you to the commander’s office.”

Long before Todd Richardson, the Pinellas County Regional Coordinator at Equality Florida, was an openly gay man living in Tampa Bay, he was an airman in the United States Air Force. He was also in the closet.

“Escort me?” Richardson said to the Technical Sergeant who had just walked into his office. The sergeant’s tone let Richardson know that he was in trouble, but for the life of him he could not figure out what he had done. Richardson’s performance reports showed he was an exemplary airman with an impeccable record. As they approached the commander’s office door, Richardson noticed several airmen standing in front of the office. Richardson suspected he knew what they were there for, probably the same reason he was there.

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Central Florida Sounds of Freedom Band and Color Guard presented “We. Are. Americans.”

By : Jeremy Williams
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Central Florida Sounds of Freedom and Color Guard held their spring concert, “We. Are. Americans.” at the Orlando Repertory Theatre in Orlando June 11.

The band, faturing special guest performers from the Impact Drum & Bungle Corps., played a variety of music from patriotic standards to Broadway classics while the color guard danced with flags and ribbons in all the colors of the rainbow.

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Gay veterans: We’ve been denied spot in St. Patrick’s parade

By : Wire Report
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BOSTON (AP)- Gay veterans who marched in Boston’s 2015 St. Patrick’s Day parade after decades of resistance from organizers say they have been denied a spot in this year’s event.

The veterans group, OutVets, said on their Facebook page that the reason for the denial is unclear, but “one can only assume it’s because we are LGBTQ.”

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With 8th album, Tegan and Sara are veterans with fresh feel

By : Wire Report
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NEW YORK (AP) – Tegan and Sara remember the unfiltered advice Neil Young and his manager gave them when they were signed to the rock icon’s Vapor Records 16 years ago as budding 19-year-old singers.

“There was a very poignant speech about ‘you could go this way and you’re taking a real risk if you don’t have success, there’s a chance a major label won’t be interested in you for very long, but then there’s this path and this path is harder, there’s less money and you’re going to struggle but it’s going to give you time to develop as an artist.’ And that’s, quite literally, the best gift you can be given as a young artist is time to develop,” Tegan, now 35, recalled in a recent interview with her sister.

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Team Watermark: Meet our veterans on staff

By : Jamie Hyman
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This Veteran’s Day, Watermark would like to take a moment to recognize the service of two of our staff members, Sales Director Mark Cady and Tampa Bay Bureau  Chief Jeremy Williams.

Both of them are openly gay men who served their country from in the closet. 

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Oregon lawmakers vote to aid gay veterans

By : Wire Report
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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon lawmakers gave an assist to gay veterans in the final hours of the 2015 legislative session.

If Gov. Kate Brown signs off on the bills approved July 6, Oregon would be the first state to hire a coordinator to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans upgrade a less-than-honorable discharge received because of their sexual orientation.

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NY lawmaker backs state benefits for gay veterans

By : Wire Report
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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – A New York lawmaker says the state should ensure that military veterans discharged for their sexual orientation under the U.S. military’s old policies are eligible for the 53 state programs, benefits and tax breaks other vets can get.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman says he’ll sponsor legislation to do that for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers among the estimated 114,000 service members discharged since World War II for their orientation or gender identity.

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Gay veterans get OK for Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade

By : Wire Report
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BOSTON (AP) – The organizers of Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade voted to allow a group representing gay veterans to march next year, a dramatic turnaround for an organization that has long resisted the inclusion of gays.

The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which won a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1995 upholding their right to ban gay groups from the annual parade that draws hundreds of thousands of spectators, voted 5-4 on Dec. 15 to allow the group OutVets to march in the parade scheduled for March 15. They will be allowed to carry a blue banner with five white stars representing the branches of the military, and six vertical rainbow stripes.

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Rep. Saunders stands up for LGBT vets

By : Staff Report
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On the opening day of Florida’s 2014 Legislative Session, State Representative Joe Saunders (D-Orlando) grabbed an opportunity to stand up for LGBT veterans.

The House was debating HB 7015, a bill addressing veteran and service member support, specifically how to support the families of military members.

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Illinois veterans join marriage equality effort

By : Wire Report
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Springfield, Ill. (AP) – Illinois military veterans are joining the effort to legalize gay marriage in the state.

A group called “Veterans Unite for Marriage” is pressing the Illinois House to OK same-sex marriage during the legislative session that begins later this month.

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