Fifth Third Bank reverses decision, will continue to donate to school voucher program

By : Samantha Neely
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ORLANDO | Fifth Third Bank has decided to reverse their original decision to pull out of Florida’s school program after it was reported that the money goes back to private schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students and employees.  

The financial institution released a statement on Feb. 7 saying that after conducting a comprehensive review of the program, they decided that they could “continue to support it, while adhering to our core values.” 

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More companies pull funding from Florida school voucher program due to anti-LGBTQ policies

By : Samantha Neely
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ABOVE: Wyndham Destinations (pictured) joins Fifth Third Bank and Wells Fargo in stopping funding to Florida school voucher program due to anti_LGBTQ policies. (Photo from Wyndham’s Facebook)

Wells Fargo and Wyndham Destinations are the next major companies to announce they will no longer to be donating to Florida’s school voucher program as long as it continues to discriminate against LGBTQ students and employees. 

The two companies joined Fifth Third Bank, who earlier this week announced their withdraw from the program after state Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Anna Eskamani called the company out on social media. The financial company responded to Smith in a pair of tweets, saying they stood with LGBTQ kids and would no longer be contributing until more inclusive policies were made.  

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Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Anna V. Eskamani praise Fifth Third Bank for standing with LGBTQ students, employees

By : Samantha Neely
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ABOVE: Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Anna V. Eskamani at the Florida State Capitol Building in Tallahassee Jan. 23. (Photo from Rep. Smith’s Facebook page)

Fifth Third Bank announced on Jan. 28 that they will no longer be donating to Florida’s voucher system if it continues to support voucher schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students and employees 

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Rep. Anna V. Eskamani called the bank out on social media for funding anti-LGBTQ, with Smith tweeting, “Marching in @OrlandoPride while also funding anti-LGBTQ schools is NOT okay!” 

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Former LGBT+ Center Orlando ED Terry DeCarlo passes away

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Terry DeCarlo, the former executive director of the LGBT+ Center in Orlando who headed The Center in the aftermath of the Pulse tragedy, passed away after battling Stage 4 neck and face cancer. He was 56 years old.

DeCarlo’s husband, Bill Huelsman posted the news to DeCarlo’s Facebook page Jan. 28.

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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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Pulse gunman’s father was FBI informant

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The father of the gunman who killed 49 people inside the Pulse nightclub had been an FBI informant for more than a decade.

The Orlando Sentinel on Monday reported attorneys for the gunman’s widow, Noor Salman, disclosed in testimony and court filings that Seddique Mateen was an informant at “various points” between January 2015 and June 2016.

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Officials: Shooter’s widow knew he would do ‘something bad’

By : wire report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Investigators say the widow of the man who killed dozens of people at a gay nightclub in Florida knew her husband “was going to do something bad” before the attack.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that a statement written by an FBI agent and signed by Noor Salman says that she was in denial that her husband, Omar Mateen, could hurt other people when he left their home with guns and ammunition.

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Parliament House to sell off part of their land to pay debts

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Don Granatstein and Susan Unger, owners of the world famous Parliament House, will sell off five acres of land to settle unresolved debt that has hounded them for more than a decade, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Granatstein and Unger are selling the five acres to Lion Financial, a Miami firm co-owned by Ron Simkins and brother Michael Simkins.

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Orlando officer who responded to Pulse massacre to get early retirement

By : Wire Report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – A city pension board has granted early-retirement benefits to an Orlando police officer who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after he responded to the shooting massacre at Pulse.

The Orlando Police Pension Board granted the benefits to 37-year-old Officer Gerry Realin July 13 after a hearing.

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FBI returns items taken during Pulse shooting investigation

By : Wire Report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – The FBI is returning items to survivors and the families of those killed six months after the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

The agency collected some 1,000 items during the investigation into the June 12 shooting that killed 49 people. The items were made available for pickup last week at an Orlando resort.

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New photo exhibit examines aftermath of Pulse shooting

By : Wire and Staff Reports
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Snap! Downtown will open a new photography exhibit Oct. 5 looking at how the community responded to the Pulse massacre.

The exhibit, titled ‘UNISON’ and opening during Come Out With Pride week, will feature photographs taken by news organizations in the days after 49 patrons were murdered at the gay nightclub.

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Lawsuits filed over possible release of Pulse shooting 911 calls

By : Alex Storer
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Two lawsuits are filed in Orange County in an attempt to clarify the potential public release of 911 calls related to the Pulse shooting.

The first lawsuit, filed by the City of Orlando June 23, asks the Orange County court to clarify how the City should proceed with the recordings of 603 calls made to 911 during the Pulse shooting and four calls between emergency services and the shooter, Omar Mateen. According to their lawsuit, which names the Associated Press as a defendant, the City hasn’t yet released the calls “out of respect for the Pulse shooting victims and their families.”

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