The Center Orlando to host 8th annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast

By : Samantha Neely
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ORLANDO| The LGBTQ+ Center Orlando will celebrate local LGBTQ leaders and businesses during its 8th annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast and Awards on May 20.

The event is in honor of the Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician in California. Despite a short political career due to his assassination, the event acknowledges the legacy he left and how, 42 years later, he is still one of the most important figures in human rights history.

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Eric Rollings, Central Florida Realtor, Activist, Environmentalist

By : State Sen. Linda Stewart, District 13
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I want to congratulate Eric Rollings on being selected for Watermark’s “Most Remarkable People”! I have known Eric for almost a decade and I am so proud of all he has accomplished. He is a close friend, and for as long as I have known him he has been fighting for just causes and been dedicated to issues such as climate change and LGBTQ rights. He has been at the forefront of the Central Florida community serving as a representative for our area locally and at the national level.

Eric has served as a delegate of the first ever delegation from Orlando to the United Nations General Assembly this year, advocating for the city’s place on the international stage at the forefront of fighting climate change and progressing the rights of the LGBTQ community. He has been a leader on the team effort to ban the practice of conversion therapy in Orange County with ConvertToLove.org. because of his advocacy, Congressman Darren Soto entered Eric into the Congressional Record as a “Distinguished LGBTQ Leader for Pride Month.”

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Orange County Democrats rally against GOP as they look ahead to general elections

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: (L-R) OCDEC chairman Wes Hodge, DNC Secretary Jason Rae and FDP Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo at the OCDEC Masquerade Ball in Orlando. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | It was an evening of magic and masks as the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee (OCDEC) hosted its 2019 masquerade ball at The Mezz in Orlando Nov. 16.

While the atmosphere was one of celebration, the evening’s message was one of focus and readiness as the democratic speakers spoke of the dangers of the current administration.

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Elizabeth McCarthy admits lying about operating on Pulse survivors

By : wire report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) | A former candidate for the Florida Legislature acknowledged to state investigators that she lied when she said she was a medical doctor who had removed 77 bullets from 32 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016.

The Florida Department of Health last week issued a cease and desist order against Catherine “Elizabeth” McCarthy, ordering her to stop holding herself out to be a medical doctor.

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Florida lawmakers call for Pulse to be named National Memorial Site

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | U.S. Representatives Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Darren Soto (FL-09) and Val Demings (FL-10) announced they would like Congress to establish the Pulse nightclub as a federally recognized National Memorial Site.

Pulse owner Barbara Poma joined the Orlando-area representatives at a press conference held at the Pulse interim memorial June 10, two days before the three-year mark of the shooting.

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2018 Midterm election LGBTQ Voters’ Guide

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Electing ally candidates is critical. That’s why Watermark reached out to 154 men and women running for political office across Central Florida and Tampa Bay to ask five questions focusing on LGBTQ equality.

You’ll find the abbreviated answers of 33 respondents below: 24 Democrats, one Republican, one Libertarian and seven without a party affiliation. While the first question was open-ended, the subsequent four were yes or no and some candidates opted to elaborate.

To read Watermark’s full coverage about the equality-focused organizations, candidates and voters hoping to turn the tide Nov. 6, click here.

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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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PHOTOS: The Center Kissimmee holds its grand opening and ribbon cutting

By : Jeremy Williams
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. | Politicians, media, local leaders and community members all gathered at the new LGBT+ Center in Kissimmee for the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony Aug. 15.

George Wallace, executive director of The Center, welcomed guests before introducing a string of political leaders — State Rep. John Cortes, Congressman Darren Soto and Osceola County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb — who all expressed gratitude for The Center coming to Kissimmee. Grieb also presented The Center with a proclamation from the county. 

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Central Florida Overheard: A Powerful Community

By : Anonymous
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It’s always good to have friends in high places, and based on Orlando Magazine’s 2018 list, the LGBTQ community not only has some good friends, they also have some pretty powerful ones too.

Orlando Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful of 2018” issue was released recently and it was no surprise one of the community’s best buds, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer topped the list in Government and Politics.

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The 49 Fund awards scholarships to LGBTQ students

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The Central Florida Foundation announced the recipients of The 49 Fund’s 2018 scholarships at City Hall in Orlando June 9.

Started by Central Florida attorney and LGBTQ activist Barry Miller, The 49 Fund awards scholarships of $4,900 to students who self-identify as an out member of the LGBTQ community, attend an accredited two- or four-year institution of higher learning on a full-time basis, earn a 3.0 GPA or higher and demonstrate a commitment to making Central Florida a better place.

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2018 WAVE AWARD WINNERS – CENTRAL FLORIDA

By : Watermark Staff
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FAVORITE LOCAL POLITICIAN/ACTIVIST

First: Patty Sheehan, Orlando City Commissioner – District 4

Second: Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor

Third: Carlos Guillermo Smith, Florida House Representative – District 49

GREATEST STRAIGHT ALLY TO THE LOCAL LGBTQ COMMUNITY

First: Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor

Second: Anna Eskamani, Florida House candidate – District 47

Third: Darren Soto, U.S. House of Representatives – Florida’s 9th District

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Local leaders weigh in on the way we were and the way we will be

By : Billy Manes
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Dumbfounded. Knocked out. Afraid. Broken. These are just a few of the things that many of us are feeling in the wake of Donald Trump’s historic rise to presidential power on Nov. 8.

If you’re anything like us, you have a lot of questions. You may have even been harassed already. We reached out to some of our best and brightest for answers, options, hope. And they provided just that. We’re not done yet. And so we rise. Here are some words from our friends. Stay strong.

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